Amazon MP3 downloads
So Amazon have announced their MP3 download store and it’s got some interesting features:-
- The file format is MP3 for maximum compatibility with every computer, music player and mobile phone out there
- It’s a nice high bit rate – 256K or better
- There is no DRM encumbrance on the files at all. Copy them to as many PCs, iPods and phones as you own, back them up, restore them later. No action is prohibited.
- The MP3 files ship with high quality artwork embedded into them.
- There’s a downloader application if you want to download lots of files in a single operation (if you bought a whole album, say). But you don’t have to use it for single tracks.
But the really interesting thing about it is this: it works from the UK. Although the site says that it is for US residents only, this requirement is apparently not strictly enforced. All you need to do is add a US billing address (any address will do, it doesn’t matter what) to your list of billing addresses and then Amazon will regard you as being sufficiently close to a US resident to allow you to buy tracks. There’s no IP-based location tracking to check where you’re physically located (unlike their Unbox video service).
This makes it not just a great service in terms of what it offers, but also an insanely great price. All tracks go for 89 or 99 cents, so they’ll be around 50p a go in sterling, unless your credit card provider rips you off when you purchase in foreign currency. The loophole could be closed at any time, of course, but as of today, it’s the new leader in music stores for UK buyers by a country mile.