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Amazon Digital Music Store Beta – First Take September 25, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.

I just bought a digital album from Amazon, managed it through iTunes, and am playing it on an iPod. And the world didn’t end. I seem to have written something similar before.

But this time is different. Amazon knows how to sell music. It has a huge customer base. Today, unprotected MP3s are the way to get onto iPods, but they may be the future. (Make no mistake, RealNetworks knows music, but it’s all about the Rhapsody service, not a la carte downloads.)

Yes, Amazon will have to build a great store. Yes, for the time being, Amazon’s 2.3 million song catalog is fairly crippled (the same EMI and Universal repertoire others can get at, plus a ton of indies). But pretty soon, consumers will see the fruit of competition based on pricing, merchandising, packaging, user experience, editorial, knowledge of consumer habits, etc., etc., instead of on random acts of technology.

I expect the music buying experience at Amazon will get richer over time. Right now, they’ve got top songs and artists, and song ratings and reviews, and rudimentary artists’ pages, all for the first time. And distinct from the Amazon CD store, though loosely integrated. The digital store didn’t tell me I’d already bought M.I.A.’s CD from them, when I clicked on the digital album version. (The CD store would have done so.)

But lots of songs are under 99 cents, and lots of albums are under $10. The recommendations tapped into my CD buying info. And the little download manager applet worked fine, and routed my purchase into iTunes gracefully.

The game just got a lot more interesting.

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