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.
Last month, Google Music users in Europe were given exclusive access to what is essentially Google’s free answer to iTunes Match. The song-matching service allows you to upload your music library to Google Music without literally uploading; instead, Google scans your music library and matches your songs with high-quality, 320 kbps copies on its own servers. For those in Europe who found uploading gigabytes of music files to be tedious, this feature was a very welcome addition.
Today, Google Music’s matching service has officially launched in the United States. The price? Zero dollars.
A recent report by NPD Group concluded that the iTunes Music Store is responsible for 70% of the legal digital music downloads, while its major competitor, AmazonMP3 is responsible for 12%. Other services such as Napster and Rhapsody account for remaining percentages each holding about 1% to 2% of the market. When the Amazon MP3 store launched back in 2007, it looked promising, they were the first legitimate online music store to offer DRM free MP3 downloads, but the selection was still limited. Nonetheless, their software which allowed customers to easily download music and import it directly into iTunes was killer. It is probably one of the best features of their downloader.
Fast forward about a year or two, AmazonMP3 continues working with record labels to offer exclusive discounted sales of hot albums amongst other things. Their pricing is better too. Apple moved to that tiered pricing structure a while ago, which made more popular songs $1.29 instead of $0.99. Amazon on the other hand have stuck with their $0.99 platform and their discounted albums. In fact, right now, Amazon is offering a number of hot albums for $5.00. While Apple does offer 256kbps AAC files which are superior in terms of quality when compared with Amazon’s 256kbps MP3 files, most people wouldn’t notice the difference. So which store is better to get your music from?