Amazon Music

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Amazon MP3
Amazon mp3.png
Opened September 25, 2007
Pricing model variable pricing per album
Platforms Windows, Mac OS X, Android
Format MP3 (.mp3) @ 256 kbit/s VBR
Restrictions None
Catalogue 29,157,740 songs
Preview 30 Seconds
Availability United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Spain
Website AmazonMP3.com

Amazon Music is an online music store and music locker operated by Amazon.com. Launched in public beta on September 25, 2007,[1] in January 2008 it became the first music store to sell music without digital rights management (DRM) from the four major music labels (EMI, Universal, Warner Music, and Sony BMG), as well as many independents.[1][2][3][4] All tracks were originally sold in 256 kilobits-per-second variable bitrate MP3 format without per-customer watermarking or DRM; however, some tracks are now watermarked.[5] Licensing agreements with recording companies restrict the countries in which music can be sold: Amazon.com only sells music to US customers while Amazon.co.uk only sells music to UK customers.[6]

After the United States, Amazon MP3 was launched in the United Kingdom on December 3, 2008, in Germany on April 1, 2009, and in France on June 10, 2009.[7] The German edition has been available in Austria and Switzerland since December 3, 2009. The Amazon MP3 store was launched in Japan on November 10, 2010.[8][9] The Spanish and Italian editions were launched on October 4, 2012.

Amazon launched Amazon Cloud Player as an extension to Amazon MP3 store in the United States on March 29, 2011.

Catalog availability[edit]

At launch, Amazon offered "over 2 million songs from more than 180,000 artists and over 20,000 labels, including EMI Music and Universal Music Group", to customers located in the United States only.[1] In December 2007 Warner Music announced that it would offer its catalog on Amazon MP3[2] and in January 2008, Sony BMG followed suit.[3][4] The current catalog is 29.1 million songs.[10]

In January 2008, Amazon announced plans to roll Amazon MP3 out "internationally".[11] Amazon limits international access by checking users' credit card issued country. The first international version was launched December 3, 2008 in the United Kingdom. German, French, Japanese, Italian and Spanish versions of the store followed.

Supported platforms[edit]

Amazon MP3's catalog is accessible from the Amazon.com web site by searching for an artist or title name. To download purchased music, Amazon.com once offered the Amazon MP3 Downloader which was optional for individual tracks and required for album purchases. The Downloader was available for Windows (XP, Vista, or 7), Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, and Linux (packages are provided for Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and openSUSE), although the Linux versions are not consistently updated to be compliant with the most recent releases and are not available for 64-bit architectures. Since March 2008 respectively December 2009 there exist the free alternative downloaders clamz and pymazon for Linux.[12][13] Currently, Amazon has dropped Linux support for their downloader,[14] forcing Linux users to download each mp3 file separately. The alternative downloaders no longer work without a user agent patch,[15] and after applying the patch require downloading the .amz file in Firefox running in Wine.

It saves purchased music into a particular folder and can, at the user's discretion, add purchased tracks to the library in Windows Media Player (Windows only) or iTunes (Windows and Mac OS X only) automatically after download.

An Amazon MP3 application is available for BlackBerry[16] and for the Android operating system is preloaded on T-Mobile G1 and Droid smartphones. The application allows mobile phone users to download individual tracks and albums when on a Wi-Fi network.[17][18] Palm phones based on webOS have a preloaded Amazon MP3 application as well[19] and users may download tracks over Wi-Fi or cellular networks. The Amazon MP3 app cannot be removed without rooting the phone and voiding its warranty.

The media management application doubleTwist for Mac OS X and Windows also has an integrated Amazon MP3 store which enables users to search, buy and sync MP3s directly to non-Apple devices.[20]

Partnerships[edit]

On February 1, 2008, Pepsi introduced a Pepsi Stuff promotion in partnership with Amazon MP3.[21][22] Customers can exchange points offered on 4 billion Pepsi bottles for, among other prizes, MP3 downloads from Warner, EMI, and Sony BMG (though not Universal).

Rockstar Games' 2008 title Grand Theft Auto IV connects to Amazon MP3. Players can register on the Rockstar Games Social Club web site to receive e-mail outside the game containing a link to buy marked songs from Amazon MP3.[23]

MySpace has sold music from Amazon MP3 as part of its MySpace Music feature since September 2008.[24]

Reaction[edit]

Initial reaction to Amazon MP3 was generally positive. The unofficial Apple Weblog praised the lack of DRM especially given that track prices were cheaper than iTunes Plus songs at launch, but the reviewer considered the user experience better in iTunes than on the Amazon web site.[25] Om Malik of GigaOM also praised the lack of DRM and the high bitrate but disliked the need to install another application to download albums. Overall, the reviewer said "…I think it makes sense for everyone to browse the Amazon store before hitting the 'buy' button on iTunes."[26]

A 2007 study by Eliot Van Buskirk of Wired News's "Listening Post" blog investigated whether Amazon MP3 was watermarking tracks with personally identifiable information. Van Buskirk quoted an Amazon spokesperson as saying, "Amazon does not apply watermarks. Files are generally provided to us from the labels and some labels use watermarks to identify the retailer who sold the tracks (there is no information on the tracks that identifies the customer)." The study concluded that although tracks may be watermarked to indicate that they were purchased on Amazon MP3, there is no data to indicate which specific customer purchased a given MP3 file.[27] This observation reflected Amazon's policy at the time.[27]

Watermarking[edit]

By 2011, however, the policy had changed and certain explicitly labeled tracks embed "Record Company Required Metadata" including, among other information, unique identifiers:[28][29]

Embedded in the metadata of each purchased MP3 from [Universal Music Group] are a random number Amazon assigns to your order, the Amazon store name, the purchase date and time, codes that identify the album and song (the UPC and ISRC), Amazon’s digital signature, and an identifier that can be used to determine whether the audio has been modified. In addition, Amazon inserts the first part of the email address associated with your Amazon.com account

Amazon Cloud Player[edit]

The Amazon Cloud Player is integrated with the digital music store and allows users to store and play their music from a web browser, mobile apps, and desktop applications, Sonos, and other platforms such as certain smart TVs.

Amazon Cloud Player accounts get 5 GB of free storage; however, music purchased through Amazon MP3 store does not count towards the storage limit.[30] Once the music is stored in Amazon Cloud Player, a user can choose to download it to one of the Android or iOS devices using Amazon Music application, or download it to a computer using Amazon MP3 Downloader.

Amazon Cloud Player comes with Amazon MP3 Uploader which is an Adobe AIR application that allows a user to upload their iTunes library or Windows Media Player library to Amazon Cloud Drive.

Amazon Cloud Player allows 10 devices (computer, browser, mobile, etc.) to be authorized. Customers can deauthorize their old devices via a web interface.[31]

Originally bundled with Amazon Cloud Drive was the music streaming application called Cloud Player which allows users to play their music stored in the Cloud Drive from any computer or Android device with Internet access.

Amazon Cloud Player for PC was launched in May 2013 as a downloadable Windows application for playing music outside of a web browser. The OS X version of Amazon Cloud Player was released in October 2013.

Reception[edit]

Much commentary on the Cloud Player has focused on its legality, since Amazon launched the service without the approval of the record labels. Amazon's official statement is "Cloud Player is an application that lets customers manage and play their own music. It's like any number of existing media management applications. We do not need a license to make Cloud Player available."[32] Technology website Ars Technica noted that this is "seemingly logical" since users are uploading and playing back their own music, so the licenses users acquired from the original purchase apply to the Cloud Player in the same way they apply to transferring and playing music from an external hard drive or digital audio player.[32] Techdirt commented that the Cloud Player is "just letting people take music files they already [have], and allowing them to store and stream them from the internet. Why should it require an extra license to let people listen to music they already have?"[33]

Record labels reacted in shock to the Cloud Player's launch,[34] insisting that licenses were needed for this type of service.

Intellectual property lawyer Denise Howell stated that "the legality of cloud storage and remote access to items already purchased make intuitive sense", but given the record labels' reaction and track record of legal action against online music services, warned that it will likely take "definitive and hard-fought judicial pronouncements" to settle the issue.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Amazon.com Launches Public Beta of Amazon MP3
  2. ^ a b Leeds, Jeff (December 28, 2007). "Amazon to Sell Warner Music Minus Copy Protection". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 29, 2007. Retrieved December 28, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "Amazon Adds Fourth Major Record Label To DRM-Free Music Store". InformationWeek. January 10, 2008. Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Hansell, Saul (January 10, 2008). "Sony Drives Another Nail in the D.R.M. Coffin". New York Times. Archived from the original on January 23, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Example of Product with Watermarking". 
  6. ^ Amazon.com: Help > Digital Products Help > Amazon MP3 Music Downloads > Amazon MP3 Music Terms of Use
  7. ^ "Amazon lance sa boutique de musique en ligne en France" (in French). AFP. June 10, 2009. Retrieved June 10, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Amazon launches MP3 store in Japan". 
  9. ^ "Amazon Japan Launches MP3 Store". 
  10. ^ "Amazon MP3 Song Database". 2014-05-11. 
  11. ^ Amazon to Begin International Rollout of Amazon MP3 in 2008
  12. ^ Dominik Wagenführ: MP3s von Amazon herunterladen. In: freiesMagazin, 2010-09, ISSN 1867-7991. Republished in a linux-community article. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  13. ^ clamz downloads and pymazon source. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  14. ^ Amazon Help: Amazon MP3 Downloader
  15. ^ "Issue 40 - clamz - Amazon MP3 store rejects Clamz user-agent - Downloader for the Amazon.com MP3 music store - Google Project Hosting". Code.google.com. 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2014-03-24. 
  16. ^ *Amazon MP3 at the BlackBerry World
  17. ^ Hachman, Mark (September 23, 2008). "Amazon Confirms Music Store for 'Google Phone'". PC Magazine (Ziff Davis). Archived from the original on September 26, 2008. Retrieved September 23, 2008. 
  18. ^ Yager, Tom (September 23, 2008). "Android to debut in T-Mobile's G1 smartphone". InfoWorld (IDG). Archived from the original on September 26, 2008. Retrieved September 23, 2008. 
  19. ^ Palm Pre: Where's the music?
  20. ^ The media management application doubleTwist for Mac OS X and WIndows has an integrated Amazon MP3 Store
  21. ^ Amazon, Pepsi Team For Super Bowl MP3 Giveaway
  22. ^ Amazon, Pepsi Prep Massive MP3 Promotion
  23. ^ "GTA IV Unveils New Music Download Model". Yahoo!. April 10, 2008. Archived from the original on April 1, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2008. 
  24. ^ Van Buskirk, Eliot (September 24, 2008). "MySpace Takes On iTunes With DRM-Free, Amazon-Backed Site". Wired News (CondéNet). Archived from the original on September 26, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2008. 
  25. ^ Amazon MP3: a quick review
  26. ^ Amazon MP3 vs. Apple iTunes: Where Should You Shop?
  27. ^ a b Some of Amazon's MP3 Tracks Contain Watermarks
  28. ^ GagaGate, DRM and How To Cripple The Cloud
  29. ^ Record Company Required Metadata
  30. ^ "Amazon.com Getting Started: MP3 Store and Cloud Player for Web". Amazon.com. Retrieved 18 May 2011. 
  31. ^ Authorizing Your Device
  32. ^ a b Cheng, Jacqui (29 March 2011). "Amazon on Cloud Player: we don't need no stinkin' licenses". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. 
  33. ^ Masnick, Mike (April 13, 2011). "Amazon Insists No Licenses Needed For Cloud Player, Google Thinking Of Skipping Licenses As Well". Techdirt. Floor64. 
  34. ^ a b Cheng, Jacqui (31 March 2011). "Music industry will force licenses on Amazon Cloud Player—or else". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. 

External links[edit]