updated 10:30 am EDT, Wed May 16, 2007
Amazon DRM-Free Store
Online retailer Amazon today announced the upcoming launch of a direct-download music store completely without digital rights management on its tracks, making it one of the few stores to offer music from multiple unrelated labels without the restrictions. Songs will be offered in the unguarded MP3 format, allowing users of Macs, Windows PCs, and most any operating system to download and play the songs regardless of the playback software. The choice also means that music bought through the store will play both on iPods as well as competing players such as the Zune or Creative's Zen series.
"Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device," bragged the company's founder, Jeff Bezos.
Importantly, Amazon adds, the store will also be one of the first to launch with the support of a major label. The online store will only be the second since the iTunes deal from EMI, which says that it will offer its entire catalog as MP3 files. "[Amazon's] arrival in the digital music market will offer even more consumer choice and will be a big advance in addressing the lack of interoperability which has frustrated many music fans," said EMI's head Eric Nicoli. Over 12,000 independent labels have also signed on to the as yet unnamed store, according to Amazon.
The lack of DRM as well as other major labels confirms earlier reports from the Times. The British publication had suggested las month that Amazon was determined to 'shake up' the music industry by opening a store without copy protection regardless of whether or not its collection would be as large as Apple's, which will still include protected tracks from Universal, Warner, and other holdouts.
Amazon hasn't outlined an opening date or a pricing system for the store, which is due to launch sometime later in the year. The company's Unbox video store is already active and sells both movies and TV shows with Windows Media protection.