September 25, 2007

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.

- 6 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Wow. That is fantastic. How long will it last before Amazon realised they can double their profits by screwing over the UK market and charging 99p per track for us rather than 99cents. I give it a week, maybe two. Perhaps that is overly cynical. I hope so!

    25 Sep 2007, 22:19

  2. Frankie Roberto

    Nice. They even accept the ZIP code 12345…

    26 Sep 2007, 00:27

  3. Frankie, if you are ever in need of a genuine USian zipcode, think back to classics 90s TV – Beverly Hills 90210

    26 Sep 2007, 19:16

  4. Thats amazing! I just downloaded an album for half the price I could on the itunes store. They have made it easy for non-US customers, I wonder if that is deliberate.

    29 Sep 2007, 17:17

  5. Jon

    I managed to get one song as a result of the loophole – but they have now closed it down to the uk – I tried various ways of getting around it but they must be either running the IP address check or running a check on the credit card – b****s!

    I know I should be used to it since I’ve lived in ‘rip-off-Britain’ all my life but doubling the cost of a song for UK consumers (and UK consumers only) – makes me so damn angry!!!

    I’m happy to pay £0.45 per track and would probably spend a lot of money over a month if all tracks cost around this much; I refuse to pay £0.95 on any track on principal – DRM or not.

    10 Oct 2007, 21:44

  6. John Dale

    Hmm, you’re right. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. Perhaps some enterprising person with more time and expertise than me will be able to figure out a reasonably easy way to use a proxy so that you present a US IP address to Amazon.

    11 Oct 2007, 11:58

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