Amazon MP3 Beta launched, iTunes still annoying

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Amazon MP3 Beta I am very excited about Amazon MP3 Beta (minus the consumer profiling it inescapably contains). I hope it enables me to be done with iTunes Music Store, soon. Now that Apple’s iTunes has paved the way, it’s about time a major player forced changes to the way digital music is sold. Apple finally has some competition.

I’m looking forward to not having to decrypt my iTunes Music Store purchases (protected AAC / .m4p) from their Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions, so that I can listen to my legally purchased files outside of iTunes and hardware not supported by Apple (and thus peacefully, instead of angrily, exercise my fair-use rights under copyright law). No more audio files ripped in proprietary formats that have to be decrypted with QTFairUse6 to make them DRM-free!

Amazon MP3 Beta Also, Amazon’s store sells MP3 tracks encoded at a 256 kbps variable bit rate, while iTunes forces you to download 128 kbps files. I expect this will be the nail in the coffin for my CD-purchasing. I have continued buying CDs because I could rip the tracks at 160+ kbps in DRM-free MP3 format. But if I can easily and conveniently purchase MP3s at 256 VBR, then I’m sold.

Most songs at Amazon are priced at $0.89, which is cheaper than iTunes (and especially cheaper than iTunes Plus, where you get to pay extra for unrestricted tracks). However, so far, Amazon is only offering music provided by two major labels, EMI and Universal. But their MP3 store is also still in beta, so I expect the quantity of songs will rival iTunes shortly. Plus, more competition means cheaper prices.

Here’s a good quote, from Salon.com’s “Amazon’s MP3 store: Better than iTunes” article, that sums up my dislike for iTunes and excitement about other legal alternatives:

But here’s the main way Amazon runs circles around iTunes: Psychic well-being. I kid you not, shopping for digital music at Amazon simply feels better than shopping on iTunes. That’s because everything is unrestricted. You don’t have to consider where you’re going to play the songs or if you plan to keep them for the long run.

By the way, Amazon also sells NBC primetime shows, among thousands of others (through Amazon Unbox), that are no longer available through Apple’s iTunes video store.

Vote 756 Result Here another good article from The Motley Fool: “Amazon 2, Apple 0.”

Also, while not related to digital music, I recommend reading this Boston Globe feature about scientific advances in the treatment of spinal cord injuries, thanks to a paralyzed football player (and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis): “Gain from pain: Buoniconti case helped with Everett’s treatment.”

By the way, Marc Ecko’s public poll has ended. Barry Bonds‘ record-breaking home-run ball is (fittingly) going to be branded with an asterisk before it’s sent to Cooperstown.

And here’s more good news: “Federal judge rules 2 provisions of Patriot Act unconstitutional.”

Finally, in today’s WTF news: Scientologists “Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are planning to build a £5 million bunker under their Colorado home to protect them from alien attacks” . . . specifically from attacks by the evil galactic overlord Xenu. Really?

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