Amazon MP3s – Initial Experience

I decided to try out the new Amazon MP3 service before going to bed.

The first thing I noticed was that for previews, Amazon uses RealPlayer. I’m not a big fan of RealPlayer, as in the past it was an invasive app that had all sorts of control panels and took over all media playing functions. Maybe it’s not like that anymore, but I didn’t really want to install RealPlayer. So instead, I opened iTunes. The albums I was looking at were available in both Amazon and iTunes, so I used iTunes to listen to previews.

After listening to a few clips, I decided on an album to download:

The Sunset Tree, by The Mountain Goats

It is $9.99 on iTunes, and $8.99 on Amazon.

When I click to buy the album, Amazon alerts me that I have to download and install their “tiny app” to complete the sale. Uh-oh. I am suspicious. Is this a tracking app, or controlling my usage, or just bloatware?

I download an install the app. It *is* pretty tiny (under 600k), and seems to be just a file download queue system. I set it to not automatically add the downloaded songs to iTunes (I’ll put them on the media server and link to them from there).

I complete the checkout, and it prompts me to download a .amz file, apparently a download queue list for the downloader app. The files start downloading. The process is quick.

Once they are done, I copy the files from that directory to the media server downstairs, and add links to them to the iTunes library.

I listen to the album as I sync the songs onto my iPod.

Overall, the whole process was quick and pretty easy. I’ll have to install RealPlayer if I want to hear preview clips, not something I’m happy about, but other than that, they have a better product than Apple.

Amazon has a higher bitrate (256 on Amazon vs. 128 on iTunes), more universal file format (MP3 vs. Apple’s AAC), no DRM, and cheaper prices than Apple! I may never buy from iTunes again.

3 thoughts on “Amazon MP3s – Initial Experience”

  1. I was reading comments on the Digg post and it seemed that most people were really leery to download the app to get albums. I think sometimes people are just too paranoid.

    Sounds like a pretty good system. Maybe once it’s out a few months they’ll fix that RealPlayer business. Might not hurt to write them about it. If they get enough complaints they might change it?

    1. Yeah, I mean, there are a zillion MySpace pages playing tunes via Flash, and everyone’s already got the Flash plugin… That would be a much better way for Amazon to do it.

      The downloading app really does seem to just queue up the tracks for download… I’m trusting in the paranoia of other users to yell and scream if it does anything hidden on the backend.

  2. I really like the album I bought, BTW. =)

    The Mountain Goats have a laid-back, spoken-word quality that won’t appeal to everyone, but I love it.
    I would liken them to The Magnetic Fields, Cake slowed down, a less-sucky modernized Meatloaf, or pre-“Lady in Red” Chris DeBurgh.

Comments are closed.