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Amazon beats Apple to non-DRM Warner music

updated 09:45 am EST, Thu December 27, 2007

Amazon MP3 Warner Music

Amazon today landed a coup by announcing the availability of Warner Music Group albums on Amazon MP3. The store becomes the first to offer music from the label in a universal format withoutdigital rights management (DRM), permitting buyers to copy tracks an unlimited number of times and to play them on most any device, including those with limited access to online music stores such as the iPod and Zune lines. The addition brings Amazon's library up to 2.9 million songs, all without restrictions and at a relatively high quality 256Kbps bitrate, according to the company.

The online retailer does not say how much of the Warner catalog is in place but explains that the store will carry album bundles with exclusive tracks. Amazon does not elaborate on whether these bundles will require shoppers to buy whole albums or can be broken up into individual song purchases.

The decision marks a significant turnaround for Warner, which has often been regarded as one of the staunchest opponents of freeing music from copy protection. Its chief executive Edgar Bronfman earned notoriety from a segment of the online community by attacking Apple head Steve Jobs for suggesting that removing copy protection was the only true solution to interoperability between music stores. The decision to sell through Amazon MP3 is a reflection of public demand, Warner claims.

"Consumers want flexibility with respect to what they can do with music once they purchase it, and we want them to have that flexibility," says the label's Senior VP of Digital Strategy, Michael Nash. "We believe that giving consumers the assurance that the music they purchase can be played on any device they own will only encourage more sales of music."

No word has been received of similar offerings from eMusic, iTunes, or other stores that offer some or all of its collection in unprotected formats. However, the move echoes a similar approach by rival Universal Music, which has consciously excluded Apple from its non-DRM music trial. The experiment is formally designed to use Apple as a controlling factor to gauge response but is unofficially believed to be an attempt to undermine Apple's dominance of online music sales and obtain greater flexibility in pricing.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005


    Not the first effort

    Other labels have tried to undercut iTMS before, but never with such an about-face to their previous position. You have to wonder if Bronfman had to eat his shoes before making the deal, or will claim he could "see the light" once he got around that glowing Apple logo he loathes so much. He probably couldn't bare the thought of either having to admit he was wrong in attacking Steve'o, or is desperate to find an online partner that the label can have more control over.

    Yet again, we see label execs desperately trying to bail out their sinking ships, but this time, its acutally a decent business model. Of course, the most popular player is the iPod, and the dominant grip of the iTMS won't be much lessened for quite some time.

    I wonder how long before this amazon price goes up....

  1. iDaver

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Nov 2001


    MP3s? Who cares.

    MP3 technology is so last-century. I'd rather buy protected AACs from iTunes which sound just as good at half the file size.

  1. dynsight

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005


    Good MP3's

    I like amazon's store and music quality. Purchased Pet Sounds (no I am not a Beach Boy Fan, but it is a good album) and the quality was excellent.

  1. BelugaShark

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007



    Amazon had probably offered Warner a percentage of all their mp3 player sales, including iPod sales.

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2002


    lossless next please...

    ...i have yet to buy a single itune for myself after buying numerous ipods - cd is better quality & no drm - apple can offer lossless drm free which would still differentiate assuming bandwidth is feasible - macworld anyone? ;-)

  1. petsounds

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2007


    256? no thanks

    Until they offer true lossless-quality albums, it's not a serious attempt to give customers what they want. You're still better off buying the album on CD and ripping it yourself.

  1. horvatic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2002


    Warner did it on purpose

    You know Warner wasn't going to give it to iTunes first anyway, so I wouldn't call it a coup by any means. More like for spite is all. They just can't handle the fact that Apple is out selling everyone including Amazon. They also want someone who will raise prices when they say so where Apple WILL NOT! Apple is pro-consumer where Amazon is Pro-business and just wants sales no matter what happens. It will fail when the prices go skyward and the consumers see that. Sales will fall flat on there face AGAIN! And iTunes with it's stable prices will see yet another jump in sales to record levels.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: warner did it on...

    Of course they did it on purpose. You think it was an accident or something? A guy was working on a contract, his hand slipped, the coffee spilled, and caused the word DRM to be blacked out?

    Apple is pro-consumer where Amazon is Pro-business and just wants sales no matter what happens.

    Sorry, Apple is NOT pro-consumer. They are pro-Apple. They happen to sell their music in a way you (and others) like. But that doesn't make them pro-consumer. But their overriding goal is to sell iPods, sell Macs, sell Music and videos, and, all in all, makes lots of dough.

  1. dliup

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006



    Apple also provide a great experience, ease of use, etc.

    And make shareholders a lot of dough, and if YOU are smart, you would own some apple stock. (but it's tesTURDo, so probably not very smart).

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