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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Amazon's MP3 Download Store

Amazon just released their MP3 Download Store, and so far, it's been pretty awesome. While browsing, I actually found music I like, by artists who aren't exactly mainstream. ILS and Thunderball were in there, even with some of their newer albums. The Itunes Store has these CD's, but for $3 more and loaded with Apple's FairPlay DRM crapware. They're also sold at Itunes' standard 128kbps AAC encoding, as opposed to Amazon's 256kbps mp3s.

I've downloaded one song and one album off Amazon's service. They give you a free song for signing up ("Energy" by The Apples in Stereo -- subtle jibe, eh?) and I bought a cd of ILS remixes. 35 tracks of excellent breakbeats for $8.99 - beat that, RIAA. The download times have been surprisingly fast (about 5 minutes later it's downloading track #26, and I'd guess their servers are getting slammed today), and the quality is pretty good. Maybe not up to Beatport's DJ standards, but leagues better than what you'll find on typical p2p networks.

My only beef with this service is that Amazon requires us to download and install their downloading software. It's a small program (1.1MB on Mac), and it's well designed - pretty icons and an easy-on-the-eyes interface. The adding to iTunes is convienent, especially since the program leaves the mp3's themselves in an external folder for later reorganization. But it's still a little worrisome to have to install software to use a web service - Amazon's privacy agreement seems pretty straightforward, but do I really want to trust them with access to my applications folder?

I suppose for now, with excellent cheap, legal music at stake - the answer is yes.

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