After months (possibly more than a year) of rumours, Amazon has finally said that it is getting into the online-music-store business, and will be offering more than a million digital music files in mp3 format, free of digital rights management. So far there have been no details about pricing, or when the store will go live, and the only label that anyone would probably know that is taking part is EMI. As Techdirt notes, Amazon’s news would have been substantially more interesting if it had come out before EMI agreed to do the same thing with Apple, but more competition for music is still better than nothing.
Without any information on prices, it’s difficult to know whether Amazon’s store will be competitive with Apple’s or not. Even if the price per song is somewhat lower — David Card of Jupiter says there could be some flexibility in pricing and Hypebot has some rumours — there could still be a substantial incentive to keep using iTunes, if only because the company has managed to get people hooked on its software, to the point where it has effectively become their music ecosystem.
The other element of the launch, of course, is that it is yet another example of a major online retailer selling content without digital rights restrictions (and Coolfer notes that EMI is doing this with other music stores as well). Will it help to bring down the defences of the other major labels, or are they happy to have EMI be the guinea pig for a little longer?