Amazon MP3 Downloads FTW

I’ve got a lot of music that I “inherited” *cough, cough* from an older music collection. Most of the songs are singles or incomplete albums, and off and on I’ve shopped around for the CDs of those albums, so that I can complete my collection. In an ideal world, I’d own legal physical copies of all my music, and someday, I will realize that ideal world.

I have, in the past, used the iTunes Store to fill in albums like that. That’s not an ideal solution for a perfectionist like myself, however – the older tracks are MP3s, without any digital rights management to lock me in to one player or device, and the iTMS tracks are encoded as AAC files and locked to only allow me to play them on my iPod or up to 5 computers. Which is more of a problem than a non-geek might think, because I use five computers as a matter of course; my new sexy thing (laptop), my home PC, my web server, and two different computers at work. OK, technically I can’t use my work computers for personal music, but I’ve seen my boss listening to stuff in iTunes on his work laptop so I feel perfectly justified in using mine, too.

It seems that Amazon has come up with a solution that gets me most of the way to where I want to be. Their new MP3 download service offers DRM-free MP3-encoded songs. Right now there’s “only” 2 million tracks, but it’s a lot of back catalog stuff, it seems, and that’s what most of my individual songs are. It’s useful for filling in the missing gaps in my collection – legally. Of course I could just pirate this stuff but I like the option of staying within the law. Y’know… sometimes I like to work with authority, and not against it. Keeps me unpredictable.

Just sayin’.

I’m also kind of please that Apple may face some actual competition on the music download front. Amazon seems like it’s got a great thing. If they can talk the rest of the music oligarchs into releasing more un-encumbered tracks, Apple is going to have no choice but to follow. If I vote with my dollars for Amazon I’m really giving Apple a little tough love. And that’s OK.

Truth is, I’ve never spent a dime on iTunes – all my “purchased” tracks were paid for with promotional codes. Oh, wait, I did buy a gift certificate for Tracy one year for her birthday. Other than that they didn’t get any money from me. For music, I mean.