Amazon plans little-used “common sense strategy” in music store

Online retail giant Amazon.com announced today that its music store, set for curtain-raising later this year, will feature songs in standard MP3 format without any copy protection.

“Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO.

Amazon’s approach to digital rights management is a drastic change from that of Apple’s iTunes, which has included copy protection at the insistence of its record label partners. Apple’s protection is proprietary as well, thus making iTunes the only practical source to buy music online for iPods and shutting out the competition. Music sold through the iTunes store historically has come with Apple’s DRM, restricting its use to the iPod.

Will Amazon’s new store be able to make a dent in iTunes’ dominant market position? It will certainly have to deal with a smaller music library, especially at the outset, but – as Jupiter analyst David Card points out – Amazon’s a master of the upsell and should do well, and perhaps quite quickly.

 
 

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  • Tom Zahm

    Mr. Myers,

    When you wrote “making iTunes the only practical source to buy music for iPods”, I think you mispoke yourself. I have lots of music on my iPod which came from ripping my CDs, mp3s from other sources, etc.

    Thanks for a wonderful blog. Keep up the (otherwise) good work.

    Cordially,
    Tom Zahm

  • rt

    “Apple’s protection is proprietary as well, thus making iTunes the only practical source to buy music online for iPods and shutting out the competition.”

    This is incorrect.

    The iPod is the only portable player that will play tracks downloaded from the iTunes Music Store, but the iPod is capable of playing MP3, non-DRM AAC and ALAC tracks as well.

    The proprietary lock-in in this case is that an iTMS purchased music library locks the purchaser into the iPod devices.

  • “Amazon’s approach to rights management is a drastic change from that of Apple’s iTunes, which has included copy protection at the insistence of its record label partners. Apple’s protection is proprietary as well, thus making iTunes the only practical source to buy music for iPods and shutting out the competition.”

    Wow… so much disinformation in a single paragraph. First, Amazon is selling the same EMI DRM-free music catalog that Apple has already announced. Only difference is that Amazon is selling it in crappy MP3 format, while Apple will be selling in 128bit AAC format. And as others have said, if a song has been released on CD or MP3 it is playable on the iPod.

  • I think that the issue of DRM-free music is a red herring. Are people using P2P because the music is DRM-free? No, they are using P2P because the music is just free. People want free music much more than they want DRM-free music. Record companies should offer free, ad-supported music to combat piracy. For more on this subject Check out the Ad-Supported Music Central blog:
    http://ad-supported-music.blogspot.com/

  • Steve Jobs said he wanted DRM-free music in his “Thoughts on Music.”
    http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

    But then he did nothing. Instead of issuing an essay, Jeff Bezos just did it.

    Let’s see which one has more impact on the industry.

  • I did misspeak, Tom. And was incorrect, rt. It wasn’t disinformation, Greg, but it definitely didn’t come out right. I’ve edited out the offending sentence.

  • johnk

    about effin’ time

  • What hidden in all these comments are people total love/hate relationship with Apple. If you love Apple this Amazon music venture seems tasteless. More pressure on Apple just means better performance.

  • Mateu

    As part of the 5% nation of Linux whiners, I feel compelled to add that at this point, what I need is the first music site that works on Linux, not the Nth site that sells music, encumbered or otherwise.

    adéu,
    Mateu

  • dilly

    Amazon has an opportunity here: Apple’s vaunted collection has some real gaps, esp. in the indie-rock and jazz realms. If I were Amazon I’d focus there and leave crud like the recently announced “complete Paul McCarney solo works” to iToons.

 
 
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