Even though it’s been a while since a new Amazon feature has blown me away, I have to say I am very impressed with amazonmp3! They only offer DRM-free music in MP3 format, generally encoded using 256kbps. The website is laid out well, all songs are previewable, it is fast, and the navigation is well-thought-out and conveniently enables both searching and browsing for music. The catalog is reasonably large (and I assume it will grow over time as they sign up new labels), and among other things I have been able to find a fair selection of obscure European Industrial bands (although amazonmp3 often only seems to have a single album of these bands, not their whole discography). Individual songs generally cost $0.89, although a few songs cost $0.99. Given that all songs are DRM-free, this compares quite favorably to iTunes Music Store’s $1.29 for DRM-free songs. Most albums cost $8.99, a few cost $9.99, and I have been able to find a lot of albums for as little as $6.99, including German imports that would have cost $16 in CD-format on Amazon.com!
The purchase experience is simple and straightforward in usual 1-click Amazon style. amazonmp3 has a nice free downloader app (currently only Mac and Windows, but supposedly a Linux version is being worked on) that makes it very easy to download entire albums. If desired, it even automatically adds the downloaded songs to your iTunes library. The downloader is optional; individual songs can also be manually downloaded from the website.
As you can tell, I am quite excited about this new service, and I think I’ll make this my standard mechanism for acquiring music from now on (assuming it is available in their catalog). I will still check out some of the other music stores I previously wrote about, as sites with an affordable subscription model might be more economical for regular downloads, but in the mean time I’m glad I now have a convenient way to buy DRM-free music on Amazon.