Amazon opens its MP3 store to independent sellers

Today, Amazon announced its indie publishing service CreativeSpace is now tied with its MP3 shop, allowing independent artists and labels to release DRM-free materials in Amazon's MP3 store.

Artists can set up an account on CreateSpace and sell their materials with no upfront charges; however, accounts are arranged in such a way that money is not directly distributed to artists. Instead, royalty checks are given out with expenses subtracted.

This method of distribution has been done before, but Amazon provides artists with a full set of account reports that can be updated daily, presumably leaving nothing a mystery. Royalties are only paid out when in excess of $20.

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Artists do not have to sign an exclusive agreement to sell their material on Amazon, therefore retaining their ownership. Prices are also set by the artists themselves. To make tracks available, they can submit 320 Kbps MP3 or uncompressed (44.1 KHz, 16 bit) AIFF, or mail a master CD.

In addition to MP3 sales, CreateSpace also offers what it calls "On Demand Publishing" of print media (books), DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, and video downloads. An Amazon property since 2002, CreateSpace formerly offered the ability to publish HD DVDs on demand, but this service was discontinued in February.

The service promises the future ability to publish High Definition video content on demand, even though Blu-ray does not yet support disc-on-demand as a part of its format spec.

Amazon and CreativeSpace's openness to indie artists is a stark contrast to Apple's murky and often daunting process of making their art available for download on iTunes.

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