Music Spotlight: 7 Reasons To Drop That Apple And Start Buying Digital Music On Amazon

Whether you intend to listen to music on your Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, or another device entirely (like an iPod, for example), it’s still a lot smarter to actually buy your digital music from Amazon.

While I appreciate the convenience and option of being able to play digital music on my Kindle Fire, in all honesty I must admit my trusty iPod is still my digital music workhorse. Yet I haven’t bought any digital music from the iTunes Store in nearly two years, and don’t ever plan to buy digital music there again. Here’s why:

1. When You Buy Digital Music From Amazon, You Can Still Use iTunes to Manage Your Music Library, and You Can Still Play Your Digital Music on an iPod Or Other Apple Device

All Amazon MP3s are totally compatible with iTunes, iTunes Match and iCloud, and all Apple devices that are capable of playing digital audio. Install Amazon’s free MP3 Music Downloader on the same PC or Mac where you run iTunes, and your Amazon MP3 purchases will import to iTunes automatically when you download them – no file conversion needed, and no extra steps needed from you.

2. Amazon MP3s Are DRM-Free: They Can Be Played On Apple Devices AND Any Other Device That Can Play MP3 Files

Anything you buy in the iTunes store has Digital Rights Management (DRM) attached to it.

10/7/12 – UPDATE/CORRECTION – iTunes began offering non-DRM tracks in “iTunes Plus” (AAC) format in 2009, and gradually expanded this format to all of its music offerings—but DRM is still locked down tight on all video content in the iTunes store. While it’s true that AAC format files can be played on most recent-model portable MP3 players, most non-Apple portable music players that were manufactured in 2010 or earlier don’t support that format. MP3 has always been, and continues to be, the most ‘open’ format for digital audio files.

DRM is like a digital lock that ensures the files will only play on specific devices. Amazon’s MP3s are DRM-free, and can be played on any device that can play MP3 files. So you can buy from iTunes and only listen on Apple devices, or you can buy from Amazon and listen on Apple devices, Amazon devices, Microsoft devices, Android devices, PCs, smart phones, and plenty more.

3. Amazon MP3s Are Almost Always Less Expensive Than Buying From iTunes

No Doubt’s latest album, Push and Shove [Deluxe Edition] is currently priced at $7.99, or 59 cents per track, on Amazon. The same album is currently priced at $13.99, or $1.29 per track, on iTunes. And because of its DRM, the album purchased from iTunes has considerably less functionality than the one from Amazon.

Mumford & Sons latest, Babel [Special Edition] is is currently priced at $13.99, or $1.29 per track, on Amazon. The same album is currently priced at $14.99, or $1.29 per track, on iTunes.

What about oldies, and classics?

Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon 2011 Digital Remaster is currently priced at $7.99, or 99 cents per track, on Amazon. The same album is currently priced at $9.99, or $1.29 per track, on iTunes.

Frank Sinatra’s Nothing But The Best is currently priced at $9.99, or 99 cents per track, on Amazon. The same album is currently priced at $11.99, or $1.29 per track, on iTunes.

While these types of price differences are typical, even where a given album is priced identically from both sellers, the lack of DRM on Amazon’s MP3s makes them more useful and therefore, more valuable.

CORRECTION/UPDATE: iTunes tracks are DRM-free now as well, but they are offered in AAC format, as opposed to Amazon’s more open and standard MP3 format. AAC tracks can generally be played on most recently manufactured devices that are capable of playing digital audio, but devices manufactured prior to 2010 often don’t support AAC.

4. Amazon Has Weekly And Monthly MP3 Music Sales

Amazon makes it easy to find music you want at great prices by providing the online equivalent of sale racks.

Where iTunes has its ‘Albums Under $8’ link near the bottom of its iTunes Music Store home page, near the top of Amazon’s MP3 Store home page, at the left, you’ll find links to the monthly lists of 100 Albums For $5 Each and Free Music From Rising Artists. Scroll about 1/3 of the way down the page, and you’ll find links to MP3 Albums By Price: $3.99 and Under (many of these are actually $1.99 or less!), $3 – $3.99, $4 – $4.99 and so on, up to $7 – $7.99.

5. Amazon Offers A Large Library of FREE MP3 Music

Where iTunes has its one Free Song of the Week, on Amazon you can find a Top 100 Free MP3 Albums list and a Top 100 Free MP3 Songs list. Each of these lists even has a link at the bottom of each listing page for an RSS feed, where you can sign up to have the most recent lists pushed to your RSS reader on a regular basis.

Just click on the See All Bestsellers link for either albums or songs on the MP3 Store home page (the link is at the bottom of each home page list), then click the link for Top 100 Free on either list’s page to view all the freebies!

iTunes may have just as much free music available as Amazon does, but I can’t say for certain because iTunes doesn’t make it easy to find free tracks and albums.

6. Amazon Automatically Saves Your MP3 Music Purchases To Their Cloud, At No Extra Charge – No More Need To Back Up Your Music Purchases!

From time to time, a track I’ve purchased from iTunes will mysteriously disappear from my iTunes library. If I purchased it within the past six months, I can notify customer support and get a credit to re-download it. If I bought it longer than six months ago, I’m out of luck: I have to buy it again.

Apple’s first answer to this limitation is to back up all iTunes store purchases immediately upon download, but few of us actually do so. This is partly because it’s a bother, and partly because nobody wants to waste an entire recordable DVD or CD to back up a handful of songs. But if you wait until you’ve purchased enough to fill an entire disc, you may have already lost some of the tracks you’d intended to back up. Apple’s second answer to the problem is their new (fee-based) iCloud service. iCloud’s storage and backup features are exactly like the cloud service you already get, for FREE, by default, whenever you buy an MP3 from Amazon.

All MP3s you purchase from Amazon are stored in their cloud servers, by default, at no extra charge to you. No more need to back up, you can re-download from Amazon’s cloud whenever you like–there’s no time limitation for storage, and Amazon performs its own data backups on files stored in its cloud regularly!

Some very cautious folks will still opt to back up to disc, but the way I see it is this: so long as Amazon exists, my music will be safe in their cloud. And I don’t think Amazon’s going away anytime soon!

7. You Can Stream Your Music From Amazon’s Cloud

You can play (or “stream”) your music from Amazon’s cloud directly to your devices so long as you’re within wifi range (or 4G range for the Fire HD4G and other 4G-connected devices). Streaming means you can play any of your Amazon MP3s directly from the cloud, without having to download them to your device first. Just download Amazon’s FREE Cloud Player app to the devices you wish to use to stream your music, such as your Fire or Fire HD, PCs, Macs, and various portable devices.

This streaming capability is surprisingly helpful, especially if (like me) you usually listen to music on an iPod through various dock devices with speakers. I have an iPod clock radio in my bedroom and the kitchen, but if I’m on the patio, down the hall doing laundry, or taking a bath, I have to uplug one of the clock radios and move it. It’s inconvenient, and anytime I unplug either clock radio I lose its time, alarm, and programmed radio station pre-sets. Battery backup on one of them would preserve the time and alarm settings if I put a backup battery in, but that’s all.


So even if you intend to keep using an iPod to play your digital music, there are some pretty compelling reasons to start buying it from Amazon.


2 thoughts on “<b>Music Spotlight: 7 Reasons To Drop That Apple And Start Buying Digital Music On Amazon</b>”

  1. While I agree with a lot of your points (I’ve been buying from the Amazom MP3 store since the beginning), the iTunes Music store has been selling DRM-free music since 2009, so that’s not really an advantage. Any device that can play AAC files works with iTMS content. Since neither store has everything, it’s nice for someone with diverse tastes to be able to buy DRM-free music from both.

    • Yes, but Apple also increased their music track prices when they started offering the DRM-free “iTunes Plus” format, which is the non-DRM format. Also, AAC isn’t as ‘open’ a format as MP3, so it’s no less restrictive for anyone who wants to play the AAC tracks on an older (pre-2010) MP3 player that’s not an Apple device, since most portables didn’t start supporting AAC until more recently. It’s true you may find it makes the most sense to decide where to buy on a purchase-by-purchase basis, but check Amazon first since you can probably find whatever it is you’re looking for there, and at a lower price than in the iTunes store.

      Thank you for the clarification, we’ll update the post accordingly.

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