In Praise of Amazon Mp3

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the world who pays for music online. It’s not that I think torrenting is stealing; it’s just that I’ve never been convinced by the arguments that it’s harmless, or that it’s actually good for the music industry. Anyway, that’s a debate for another day; I’m just here to give some praise for Amazon’s Mp3 store.

For a long time I didn’t download any music, because of one simple fact: I hate iTunes. It’s far too expensive and the music files are really low quality. When Amazon launched their rival Mp3 store, I didn’t use it at first, as I figured it would be just as bad as iTunes. However, I recently started using it and I think it’s a hell of a lot better.

Amazon has massive library of music: 15 million tracks, all DRM free. The vast majority of the CDs in their normal music store are also available digitally. I’m into some pretty obscure stuff, and most of the time even I can find what I want. Individual tracks seem to be, on average, a little cheaper than iTunes but it’s when buying a full album that you make a real saving. A lot of older albums are about £3.99, and a lot of the more popular stuff is still under a fiver. There’s also special offers on “albums of the week” and some free-sampler albums…

It’s with classical music that you’ll find the best bargains. Amazon have compiled their own albums called “The 99 Most Essential Masterpieces”, one for each of the great composers. Most of these are only £2.69 and have up to ten hours of music. They’re perfect for classical music beginners, like myself. I reckon I could bluff my way as an expert for less than £15…

The mp3s are higher quality than iTunes: mostly 256 kbps. However quite a few seem to be variable-rate files that average at about 256. I’m never sure what difference that makes though. I did a comparison with a 128 kbps track from iTunes, and the one from Amazon sounded much sharper.

The user experience is very good; you just buy albums in the same way you buy anything else on Amazon. The only minor annoyance is when you first use the service, you have to install a bit of downloading software. I was worried this might be an irritating program that acts as a default music player, but no: it just pops up whenever you download an album, then disappears again. You can also download tracks straight from your iPhone or Android, but I haven’t tried that yet, so I don’t know how well that works. Downloading from a PC is high-tech enough for me.

I realise that this post probably reads like it’s a sponsored by Amazon, but I can assure you I wasn’t paid to write this. However, if they want to send some money my way, I could be talked into accepting it…

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Posted on March 16, 2011, in Misophonic and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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