It doesn’t seem to be linked from the online store’s homepage–instead, it was announced via a 3 a.m. PDT post on the site’s music blog–but Amazon’s MP3 store appears to be live, albeit in the hedging-bets “beta” format.
The store’s catalog appears to be pretty robust for the labels that are participating (recent Universal Music Group releases Graduation and Curtis are both available, as are all the EMI albums that have been sold via Apple’s DRM-free iTunes Plus initiative; there are also a few out-today releases sprinkled within ); Amazon is claiming that 180,000 artists and 20,000 labels are participating. The actual purchasing process for getting a song is pretty painless (I bought “Bette Davis Eyes” after four clicks, including sign-in), with Amazon “suggesting” that users incorporate their download manager into the purchasing process. (Apparently the download manager is required if you want to buy a full album, something which I haven’t tried yet.) MP3s average 256 Kbps, and the customer agreement does stress that users can’t swap the files, although surely someone’s tried to do so already.
One quirk: Amazon seems to be really into telling users how much they’ll save by buying the album, and not individual songs (Curtis‘ savings come out to $5.25; Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga‘s is $0.81). A sop to the participating labels or a “customer-focused” idea? Either way, I’ll be playing with the store more throughout the day.
Amazon.com MP3 Downloads [amazon.com]