Talking tech since 2003

Many industries and the companies in them are still struggling with the fact that it’s 2013 and not 1995 (the Alanis Morissette album art I chose for this post probably doesn’t help). The way we use, store and transport media differs a great deal from that decade. A large number of cars are doing away with CD players, for instance, instead offering a simple “AUX-IN” port to connect a smartphone or MP3 player. Even computers are starting to phase out their optical disc drives. Those who buy music on compact discs are likely ripping those tracks to MP3s and keeping the disc for backup purposes.

Amazon is one company that understands how people use media better than any other, having been a major retail player in the music, video and book industries for quite some time. And now the company is making life easier for its CD-buying customers with “AutoRip,” a feature that pairs digital MP3 albums with the physical copies for no additional charge. Depending on the album you’re buying, this can go from a good deal to an amazing deal.

autoripAlbums bought by customers as far back as 1998 are eligible for AutoRip, and those who made CD purchases going back to that time will find that AutoRip-compatible releases for the albums they bought are already stored in Amazon’s Cloud Player as digital music files. If you bought your little sister a One Direction CD for Christmas, congratulations, you probably have a digital copy of the album in Cloud Player. That unfortunate scenario aside, if you’ve been meaning to digitize your CD library for quite some time and you’ve made most of your purchases on Amazon, Auto-Rip will be a huge time-saver.

If you purchase a CD today through Amazon, and the album is one of the 50,000 supported by AutoRip at launch, you’ll get the physical disc shipped to you and you’ll also be able to access the album through Cloud Player. You can tell which albums support the feature by looking for the “AutoRip” label on the album art.

Perhaps the best side effect of this deal, though, is the fact that some CD prices actually undercut the price of Amazon’s digital albums. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, for example, sells at $5.99 on CD, compared to $9.99 as a digital download. This seems to be a trend with older albums (think 90’s, early 2000’s), as the digital versions of most new releases have been priced down to match the compact disc price. The new Lumineers album comes in at $7.99 whether you’re buying the digital album or the CD. It looks to me like Amazon is going to try and keep physical and digital prices in line with each other, but it just hasn’t finished updating its enormous library of albums yet.

To be quite honest, there’s really nothing negative to say about AutoRip. It’s a service that helps the consumer and, who knows, might even give CD sales a little kick. The only tiny drawback I can see was mentioned earlier: the automatic addition of albums you’ve previously purchased, even if they weren’t for you. But you can easily go in and delete those songs, so it’s not a big deal. I tip my hat to Amazon on this one.

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