Amazon Announces Plans for International DRM-free Music Downloads

Includes: AAPL, AMZN
by: Larry Dignan

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced Sunday that it plans an international rollout of its DRM-free MP3 music download service in a move that sets up a global scrap with Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes service.

Is Amazon’s service an iTunes killer yet? Not really. But there’s no doubt about Amazon’s intentions. I’ve downloaded more than a few DRM-free tunes from Amazon in recent weeks–most because I got a warning about burning more than seven CDs for a 5 year old’s birthday party (there was two songs purchased on iTunes).

Without that little warning I probably wouldn’t have tried Amazon’s service. But the four big labels and thousands of independent ones convinced me to give it a try. Amazon’s service is intuitive, easy and can compete with iTunes–even though Apple and Amazon have different takes on their service.

Now that battlefront is going international. In a statement, Bill Carr, Amazon’s VP of digital music, said:

”We have received thousands of e-mails from Amazon customers around the world asking us when we will make Amazon MP3 available outside of the U.S. They can’t wait to choose from the biggest selection of high-quality, low-priced DRM-free MP3 music downloads which play on virtually any music device they own today or will own in the future.”

I’d love to see more quantification on the e-mails. Was it 100,000, 10,000 or 2,000? We’ll never know, but the big takeaway is that Amazon has a complete DRM-free lineup and plans to use it as a weapon.

One problem: Amazon isn’t disclosing a timeline for this rollout abroad.