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Amazon to sell MP3s: DRM-Free

Confirming a widely reported rumor, web retailing giant Amazon today announced it would be entering the music-download market; and notably it will be doing it without Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions attached to the music. 

amzn musicThe removal of DRM technologies is a significant breakthrough for online music retailers.   Earlier this year, Apple’s CEO raised questions of DRM’s benefits in an open letter (more info here and here). And shortly after, announced a deal with EMI to offer music without DRM. 

In a statement Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos said “Our MP3 only strategy means that all music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device.”

Absent DRM restrictions all of the songs sold at Amazon will play on any MP3 player; a move that will make a consumers choice of which MP3 player to buy more a factor of price and features rather than the music catalog available to them.

The Amazon music store will be launched later this year. Record label EMI, which was the first label to break ranks with the music industry and offer its music without copyright protections, is the first label to join Amazon.  Warner Music and Vivendi’s Universal Music group are reported to still be experimenting on their own with DRM-Free offers and may or may not participate in DRM-Free marketplaces like Amazon’s.

The launch of Amazon’s service is expected in time for holiday buying – and may well be marketed with promotions to sell MP3 players at that time.  Amazon is saying 12,000 labels representing millions of songs will be available.  At this time, which labels are included has not been disclosed.

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