Amazon MP3 Music Store Opens Today

Amazon.com launched the public beta of its digital music store Tuesday, offering over 2 million DRM-free tracks.

The new music store could be seen as a strong competitor to iTunes, as it features many of the same artists without copy protection on the files. This means that not only can the tracks purchased from Amazon MP3 be copied, burned, and stored on multiple computers, but they are also compatible with most portable devices, including the iPod. All songs are encoded at 256 kilobits per second.

iTunes Store has made DRM-free songs available also, but at a higher cost than its protected songs. Amazon MP3 offers individual songs for 89 to 99 cents, and entire albums for $5.99 to $9.99 USD. In comparison, Apple sells their unprotected music for $1.29 per song, and $12.99 per album.

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One drawback to Amazon's store is the fact that many artists are noticeably absent from the catalog due to contractual obligation to have DRM on their digital tracks. Labels under Sony BMG Music Entertainment including Arista, Columbia, Epic, Jive and RCA, are all missing from Amazon MP3's catalog. This means that artists from Slayer to Britney Spears will not currently be available.

However, for the more indie savvy, Amazon MP3 has many labels offering their catalogs for the first time as DRM-free files. These include Alligator, HighTone, Sanctuary, RIghteous Babe, Sugar Hill, and Trojan Records.

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