January 4, 2008
I was looking around at music download sites the other day. I like iTunes for its convenience but I also hate it because of the DRM. It works because the only time I listen to my purchased iTunes music is on my computer or on my iPods. However, I can’t listen at work since I don’t have iTunes and can’t have an iPod or burned CDs there. For that reason just about all of my purchases have been actual CDs. They are a little more expensive than the downloads and I have to go out and get them when I want them. At least with the physical CD I am guaranteed to have the music in any format. On the downside my CD case is filing up and hitting random on a single disc isn’t all that exciting.
Amazon caught my eye because they are only doing DRM-free MP3 downloads. They are also trying to be cheaper. Popular singles are $. 89 and most albums are $8.99. I decided to try it out on Wednesday. I downloaded the new Saves the Day album. It cost $7.99. When I checked the actual CD was $13.99 on Amazon. The first thing you have to do is get the Amazon MP3 Downloader. Its available on Mac and Windows, obviously I’m using the Mac version. You can tell the downloader where you want your files stored and if you want the songs to be added to iTunes automatically. Once you have that you download a file for the music you’ve purchased. It then opens up the downloader. It does just what you expect, saves the files and adds them to iTunes. Then they’ll get sync’d up with your iPod next time. I believe the files are 256kbps, higher than I used to encode my mp3s. After purchasing I put them somewhere so that I could download the songs to my computer at work, they work with Windows Media Player. Its all working great so far. Last night I grabbed another album and a few songs I’d been meaning to get off iTunes.
Today, Sony announced they are going DRM-free. Still not sure where they will be selling those tracks. Still, with the major labels going DRM-free in some capacity there are going to be a lot of different options. For now Amazon looks like it works for me. The mp3s are easily to deal with and don’t have any compatibility problems.Â I’ll be going with them until I find something more interesting.