Back in April I observed that the Apple-EMI deal to provide DRM free downloads in the iTunes store was non-exclusive, and today the second shoe dropped as Amazon announced they will “will launch a digital music store later this year offering millions of songs in the DRM-free MP3 format from more than 12,000 record labels” including EMI and a lot of minor players:
“Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO. “We’re excited to have EMI joining us in this effort and look forward to offering our customers MP3s from amazing artists like Coldplay, Norah Jones and Joss Stone.”
Amazon didn’t specify when exactly the store would open or how much the tunes would cost, but Bruce Houghton at WebProNews has some rumors:
While the official announcement says “later this year”, sources tell us that Amazon is pushing for an “as soon as possible” launch that is primarily being held up by technology and data issues. June or July would seem a likely launch time frame as Amazon is anxious to beat competitors to the inevitable rush of DRM free product.
Amazon is also said to be offering flexible and lower pricing with full album downloads retailing at $4.99 to $8.99 and individual tracks ranging from $.89-$.99.
We hear rumblings of more labels including perhaps some Universal product and the catalogs of some larger indies and distributed labels that have previously held onto DRM signing onto Amazon prior to launch.
Perhaps naively, I think this is the beginning of the end of DRM based music downloads, and the fact that Amazon is offering MP3s may even put a crimp into iTunes whose DRM-free offerings are only in AAC format. Who knows, even the CD’s days may be numbered.