Last week, Amazon opened its MP3 Download Store. With over two million tracks averaging out at 89 cents a track, it is an impressive entry into the market of music downloads. Totally ripping Apple a new one, Amazon has unveiled what could really be a successful product, if they do it right.
While the way that Amazon went about building a download store really helped them with early market acceptance, they need to do something that iTunes did pretty quickly after release. That is to grow your selection exponentially. When iTunes launch it did so with a similar footprint, but it quickly proved that people would pay for music if the price was right and labels and artists both wanted their tracks on there as quickly as possible. The fact that Amazon’s store is entirely DRM-Free might make this more difficult. However, record companies are realizing that in order to compete with iTunes, the other stores have to sell music that will work on iPods. They are finally understanding that you can not ignore the player that holds the largest share of the portable media player market.
The fact that Amazon went with DRM-Free Mp3 files, shows that they have the right idea in competing with iTunes. The songs are easy to purchase, download, and load into your music library. Once it’s downloaded, the song is in your library and will sync with your device as if you had purchased the track from the iTunes store itself. It is pretty (though not completely) seamless. Amazon has a really good product on their hands, but the bread and butter is going to come down to track selection. If they can get the track selection up to where iTunes is today that will go a long way in cementing Amazon as competition to Apple. Also, if Amazon can land things like “Celebrity Playlists” and some bundles like iTunes is offering, they can really become a match for the iTunes store.
I think that labels and artists are going to eventually see the benefits of a DRM-Free mp3 store and as a result will cling to it like white does to rice. DRM-Free Mp3 files are the best way to ensure that your songs will work on the most devices. And really, all the artist wants is to be able to be heard by the most people.