Introduced in 2007, AmazonMP3 (*Est. $0.69 to $1.29 per track) has grown to be one of the major contenders in the music download business in the U.S. Its library of 19 million tracks compares favorably to the iTunes catalog of over 20 million, and both services have the big four music labels. Jamie Lendino of PCMag.com says, "By combining low prices, broad selection, smart integration with iTunes and Windows Media Player, and the sweet, sweet freedom from DRM, AmazonMP3 is a solid destination for digital music."
While all the major music download services now also have DRM-free music, AmazonMP3 maintains its unique selling point of a vast selection of mostly mainstream music at low prices. Single tracks start at $0.69, with albums from $5.00 and up, and there are often daily bargains as well as benefits for frequent customers. AmazonMP3 offers just a 30-second preview of tracks, in contrast to the 90-second previews of iTunes (*Est. $0.69 to $1.29 per track) and Google Music (*Est. $0.99 to $1.29 per track). Some reviewers complain that social networking through AmazonMP3 is limited to Facebook and Twitter.
The songs on AmazonMP3 are in MP3 format, have a 256 kbps bitrate and can be downloaded onto your computer or Android devices (phones and tablets) through the Downloader app. You can choose a default to import the tracks into Windows media player or iTunes. However, there is no AmazonMP3 app for the iOS operating system running on Apple's mobile devices.
A recent development in the music download world is to offer the capability for users to store all their music on the web, from which they can access it anywhere and anytime through their home and mobile devices. AmazonMP3 has introduced the ability to store your music on its Cloud Drive. Your first 5 GB of storage is free, as is storage space for any tunes purchased from Amazon.com; unlimited cloud storage for MP3 and AAC files currently costs $20 per year.
The Amazon Cloud Uploader allows you to upload your music into your cloud space; the Amazon Cloud Player lets you manage your music library and play your music on the web, Kindle Fire, iPad and Android devices (phones and tablets). You can choose to save your music purchases from the AmazonMP3 music store directly to your computer, but there is also a useful option to automatically download to your computer any music purchases that you've saved on the Cloud Drive.
There are only a few recent reviews for the AmazonMP3 music store. TopTenReviews.com places it in third place in their roundup of music download services (behind iTunes and the now-defunct Napster), but doesn't explain its testing methodology. Over 400 user reviewers at Amazon.com are divided between liking the service and finding it too resource-heavy and difficult to use, while the About.com digital music guide gives AmazonMP3 a rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5. An older PCMag.com review from 2009 gives a thorough evaluation of the service. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Editors at TopTenReviews.com rate AmazonMP3 in terms of selection, features and customer support. The review has a wealth of useful information, including screenshots. AmazonMP3 scores well, following closely behind top services Napster (now discontinued) and iTunes.
Review: AmazonMP3, Editors of TopTenReviews.com
This review is one of several at About.com that look at music download services for cell phones and iPods as well as MP3 players and computers. In this article, About.com digital music guide Mark Harris has a thorough write-up of AmazonMP3, but it's not clear from the description whether or not he has personally tested the service. The review includes pros, cons and a list of specs. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: AmazonMP3 Review: A Review of the Amazon MP3 Downloads Store, Mark Harris
Over 400 people review Amazon.com's MP3 store, and they're pretty equally divided between liking the service and finding it intrusive and resource-heavy. Most positive reviewers like the service's ease of use and extensive catalog.
Review: Amazon MP3, Contributors to Amazon.com
PCMag.com's Jamie Lendino gives a thorough review of the pros and cons of AmazonMP3, which is now a top contender against iTunes. Lendino likes the universal compatibility of the MP3 format sold on the site and the fact that tracks and albums can be purchased without having to buy a subscription. He says AmazonMP3 is somewhat weak in its search capabilities and the music suggestions based on previous purchases are limited.
Review: AmazonMP3 (Winter 2009), Jamie Lendino, Feb. 25, 2009