The new MP3 store from Amazon delivers a perfect modern music retail experience, at least as I’ve imagined it over the years. I like buying my music, but I don’t want more CDs – chunks of plastic that do nothing but sit on a shelf. I like iTunes, but I don’t want DRM, and I don’t want to be limited to one device. Buying MP3s is the perfect solution, and Amazon provides a fantastic user experience to boot.
You first install a small application on your machine. Then you simply browse the extensive online library. Songs are reasonably priced, usually lower than $0.99. Better yet, full albums are usually priced from $7.99 – $9.99. When you find what you like and click to buy it, the Amazon Downloader automatically puts it in your designated music folder, nicely organized, and adds it to iTunes or Windows Media Player if you like.
While they don’t yet have the selection that iTunes offers, at 2.3 million songs and climbing they have tons. The files are high quality (~256Kbps, VBR), standard MP3s. I bought several albums there this weekend, and the whole experience has been incredibly pleasing. I love knowing that the music I paid for will be easily playable on whatever device I happen to have in the future, and I love that iTunes finally has a powerful competitor.