I have ranted about how decent music downloads are hard to come by here in South Africa, at least legal music downloads. There is the iTunes Store workaround but then that isn’t exactly in accordance with Apple’s terms of service. There are a couple options available like eMusic but the catalogues are rarely chock full of mainstream releases.
Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel. Amazon has announced that its Amazon MP3 service is going to open up to international customers sometime this year.
“We have received thousands of e-mails from Amazon customers around the world asking us when we will make Amazon MP3 available outside of the U.S. They can’t wait to choose from the biggest selection of high-quality, low-priced DRM-free MP3 music downloads which play on virtually any music device they own today or will own in the future,” said Bill Carr, Amazon.com Vice President of Digital Music. “We are excited to tell those customers today that Amazon MP3 is going international this year.”
Launched on Amazon.com in September 2007, Amazon MP3 offers Earth’s Biggest Selection of a la carte DRM-free MP3 music downloads, which now includes over 3.3 million songs from more than 270,000 artists. Every song and album in the Amazon MP3 music download store is available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software and is encoded at 256 kbps to deliver high audio quality. Amazon MP3 customers are free to enjoy their music downloads using any hardware device; organize their music using any music management application, such as iTunes(R) or Windows Media Player(TM); and burn songs to CDs for personal use.
This service is currently restricted to US customers and enables them to purchase DRM-free, 256kbps MP3 files which you can play on the device of your choice. Amazon MP3 is one of the few real competitors iTunes has and if Amazon opens the store up more than the iTunes Store then I can see Apple having a tough time hanging on to its dominance in the digital music download market.
I will certainly be there with my credit card to buy music from Amazon if the store becomes available here. Songs cost between $0.89 and $0.99 and albums cost between $5.99 and $8.99. To boot, Amazon is selling music from all 4 music labels and you can be pretty sure this is partly the music industry’s response to Apple’s refusal to introduce flexible pricing for music historically.
What a win!