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Other Shoe Drops: Amazon to Launch Digital Music Sales May 16, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.

Here’s the release. They wouldn’t tell me much more. Later this year, DRM-free MP3s from EMI (entire digital catalog) and 12,000 other labels. No word on pricing, but Amazon assured me they strive to offer low prices, and that careful observers will note that CDs have a lot of variety in their price points.

No comments on bit-rate/quality, preloaded devices, whether or not there will be Amazon software, discovery tools other than recommendations, which are a key part of the current CD offering, exclusives or in-house recordings, etc. They’ll sell songs and albums; no comment on playlists. They’re announcing what they’re doing so “other labels have a chance to get on board.”

Anyway, aside from lack of details, this is a big, big deal, and a critical entrant into the digital music space. Amazon knows how to sell music, what it sells will run on any PC or device — including iPods — without copying or burning restrictions, and it’s (presumably) laying down the law on DRM and formats. Of course its catalog will be crippled at least initially, and it will have a difficult time making money on $1 or thereabouts sales. However, Amazon’s a master of upselling, and has zero customer acquisition costs. It should do just as well as any other store, likely better.

I’d still like to see Amazon do an on-demand service, probably subscription rather than ad-based, someday…

Jupiter digital music surveys, and forecasts. A take on DRM-free MP3 distribution.

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