Financing the Evil Empire*

Amazon.de finally offers music as MP3 downloads like .com already did for a while now (actually they started in 2007). I was interested for quite some time and finally came around to use it a few times. Their Bit rate is 256 kbps VBR for the entire shop and cannot be selected in other rates. Downloading complete albums requires previous installation of the “Amazon Downloader” (which comes in german, no matter if the entire OS/software is, say, english). After paying is done, a *.amz file has to be opened (with the downloader as the default program selected) and the download starts. There is no speed measurement or anything like this, only a progress bar. The downloads are automatically stored in folders sorted by artist and album (Amazon MP3\Artist name\Album name).

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Although covers are visible during the download, none are stored with the MP3s. It’s just the naked music. No lyrics, videos, no nothing.

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If the user doesn’t choose “do nothing” in the options before buying, the software will try to add all files either to iTunes or Windows Media Player, whatever is installed (I don’t know what the Linux or Mac client will try to do).

amp3

They used on “older” (current is v3.98.2 from September 2008) lame version for encoding (probably because the files are from .com and this service exists longer)! Just the encoder (lame; no referrer to a particular version) I would have used myself. The comments include an “Amazon.com Song ID: 123456789”, it would be interesting to know if that’s all they did, or if there are other methods like watermarks and the like (but so far I don’t know of any credible hints to that). And, of course, what the ID number can identify/what it represents. Everything I’ve seen about this is really old, dates back to 2007, when .com started it. So differences are small, to say the least.

A purchase doesn’t include multiple downloads and, as with most digital distribution, the complete risk lies with the customer (along the fact, that reselling is next to impossible). If the files get corrupted or lost, it’s all over. The additional effort for backups etc. is to be considered. It’s a moot point if the price is low enough, to cover for all disadvantages.

*No, not Amazon. Although… :P

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