Hot off the press.  Amazon has announced that they will be launching a DRM free music store with music from 12,000 labels, including music from EMI.  Back in January I wrote why I think Amazon could be a big deal in digital music.  Two aspects that Amazon potentially brings to digital music:

  • Discovery -  Amazon's focus on discovery makes Amazon a much better online bookstore than any other bookstore.  They use all sorts of ways to connect a reader with a book.  Collaborative filtering, book reviews, customer lists,  content search,  best seller lists , special deals.  These techniques help get their readers deep into the long tail of books.  Discovery is in Amazon's genes.  When they start selling digital music, you can bet that they will have the same focus on discovery and give the listener new and interesting ways to find music in the long tail.  A listener may come to Amazon to pick up the latest U2 track, but may find themselves happily downloading a track by an obscure artist.  This is good for the listener - they will will be exposed to a larger variety of music and this is good for the long tail artists.
  • Metadata - Amazon has a great set of web services built around their data.  Using Amazon's web services, one can get access to book descriptions, book cover images, reviews, pricing information - just about  any piece of data  in Amazon's database is exposed via their web services.  Exposing their data in this fashion places Amazon at the center of the online literary ecosystem.   Any startup company that wants to be in a business related to books will  use Amazon's API  because it is easy, the data is of high quality and it is free.  This is good for the startup, and even better for Amazon since all of those startups end up sending their customers to Amazon.  Amazon is already a big part of the music ecosystem.  They already have lots of data for music CDs that is available via their web APIs.  They are probably the largest supplier of album art on the web.  The Amazon part number - the ASIN - is used throughout the web as an unambiguous identifier for an album. Once Amazon starts to sell individual tracks, I would expect that Amazon will create an ASIN or an equivalent for each track in their database.  This track-level identifier may become the primary way of identifying tracks in the music world since Amazon makes it so easy to get all of the information about an item once you have the ASIN.  This could be a key enabler in the next generation of music - a  ubiquitous song ID tied to deep metadata.
The store is set to open later this year ... I am very interested in seeing what this does to the world of digital music and music discovery.



This is good news for consumers. The more options for downloading high quality DRM free music, the better. We at have been providing DRM free audio and video since 2005. DRM just doesn't work and it is about time that the big players are realizing this.

Posted by Brian on May 16, 2007 at 04:32 PM EDT #

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