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Amazon MP3 secures Sony BMG music, all four major labels

post #1 of 73
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Landing what may be one of the most significant blows yet against Apple's iTunes, Amazon on Thursday said it would carry Sony BMG's music -- providing the download service with unprotected music from all four major music labels while Apple claims only one.

The deal confirms a magazine leak and sees Sony BMG joining EMI, Universal, and Warner in the roster of music providers who sell albums in MP3 format through the Amazon store.

As with the rest of Amazon's catalog, songs from Beyonce and other Sony artists will be copyable an unlimited number of times and can be played with virtually any computer software or handheld audio device, including Apple's iTunes jukebox and the iPod lineup.

The move creates a conspicuous imbalance between Apple and Amazon in terms of their ability to offer music without copy protection, a feature many have considered essential to encouraging more sales of direct-download music while CD sales drop. iTunes was the first to obtain major-label music without digital rights management (DRM) from EMI in spring 2007 but quickly saw its advantage fade as Universal and Warner joined EMI in signing on to Amazon's digital store in the remaining months of last year.

For a third time, the announcement also comes without word of similar deals for competing stores, including current market leader Apple. Universal has back out of long-term deals to provide music to iTunes after complaining about inflexible pricing at the Apple-run store but is commonly believed to have signed with the even lower-cost Amazon MP3 as a way to gauge whether it can reduce Apple's influence on digital music sales.

Amazon's coup further corroborates alleged insider tips from the music chart keepers at Billboard, who reported late last year that Sony BMG would sign with Amazon and participate in a Superbowl promo which would give away as many as one billion free Amazon MP3 song codes hidden underneath Pepsi bottle caps.
post #2 of 73
Many years ago, when I worked for a CD-ROM publishing company, the owner said, "Content is king".

Unfortunately without content, Apple is being played by those with. It seems like an "anybody but Apple" strategy to bring Apple down. How soon they forget where they were before iTunes and legal downloading.
post #3 of 73
Content matters, but not to a company like Apple. The iTMS only exists to provide content for the iPod/iPhone. If Apple didn't sell the iPod, they wouldn't have the store, not the other way around.

Amazon's service integrates very well with iTunes, allowing consumers to very easily purchase content from Amazon, but still buy their hardware from Apple.

In the end, I think it was the labels who were out played by Apple. They did what SJ wanted while thinking they were in control and really sticking it to Apple. Now the content market will start to free up, and people will have no good reason not to buy an iPod or iPhone to play their DRM free music.

Edit: Don't forget that it was Apple who also pushed to break albums up into individual songs. Apple "won" in that situation by having the first digital store to provide single tracks. However, the music was still laced with DRM. Because that was the first step the labels took into digital media sales, the tracks had to have DRM, and only the company who owned that DRM could really benefit. Now, as the labels take their next digital media step, DRM is being eliminated. This time, it doesn't matter who sells the content, as the DRM is gone, and it can be played on anything. Apple wins again.
post #4 of 73
When will my current purchases be unlocked?
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post #5 of 73
So this is bad for Apple how?

I thought they made their money selling iPods, not music (only a few cents per song?).
I thought the iTunes Music Store was there because no one else supported Mac OS X way back when.

So Apple now can focus investing in better hardware instead of making a better music store.
Sounds like everyone but Apple will have to heavily invest in cut-throat razor-thin margins on unprotected music.
Sounds an awful lot like the discount PC business - something Apple stays clear of.

I think Apple has gracefully exited this market and has acquiesced to others to sell content in that manner.
post #6 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by swmooretiger View Post

Content matters, but not to a company like Apple. The iTMS only exists to provide content for the iPod/iPhone. If Apple didn't sell the iPod, they wouldn't have the store, not the other way around.

Amazon's service integrates very well with iTunes, allowing consumers to very easily purchase content from Amazon, but still buy their hardware from Apple.

In the end, I think it was the labels who were out played by Apple. They did what SJ wanted while thinking they were in control and really sticking it to Apple. Now the content market will start to free up, and people will have no good reason not to buy an iPod or iPhone to play their DRM free music.

Edit: Don't forget that it was Apple who also pushed to break albums up into individual songs. Apple "won" in that situation by having the first digital store to provide single tracks. However, the music was still laced with DRM. Because that was the first step the labels took into digital media sales, the tracks had to have DRM, and only the company who owned that DRM could really benefit. Now, as the labels take their next digital media step, DRM is being eliminated. This time, it doesn't matter who sells the content, as the DRM is gone, and it can be played on anything. Apple wins again.

You make some good points.
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post #7 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiMiC View Post

When will my current purchases be unlocked?

If you're talking about iTunes, then I believe you have to re-purchase the music you own that is now being offered as iTunes Plus on the store.

If you're talking about Amazon, I can't help ya.
post #8 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by speed_the_collapse View Post

If you're talking about iTunes, then I believe you have to re-purchase the music you own that is now being offered as iTunes Plus on the store.

If you're talking about Amazon, I can't help ya.

You only had to pay the .$30 difference to upgrade, and I believe they have dropped the price back to $.99 for iTunes Plus, so it should be free.
post #9 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morky View Post

You only had to pay the .$30 difference to upgrade, and I believe they have dropped the price back to $.99 for iTunes Plus, so it should be free.

It should be, but it's not. It is still $0.30 a track to upgrade -- it's not just unlocking, it is also twice the bitrate.
post #10 of 73
I think it remains to be seen how much impact this has on sales of music at the iTunes store. How many buyers there don't care about the DRM as long as they can click on a link within iTunes and have music on their PC or Mac, iPod, and maybe CDs they burn for their car radio if it isn't iPod compatible? I don't know the answer to that, but it may be a larger number than expected.
post #11 of 73
I think what Apple should do here is integrate iTunes with the Amazon store in a non-intrusive way. This would allow you to still add the songs dynamically through iTunes while still shopping on Amazon...Perhaps allow one to surf to other music sites from within iTunes...
post #12 of 73
well they made appleTV (and every other Apple device) work with YouTube, I guess iTunes will eventually work seamlessly with Amazon
post #13 of 73
amazon.com has to be one of the worst-designed and unappealing websites in the world. I hate going there. I hate shopping there.

Let's see how successful they are with their music download business (assuming that it matters much -- except for the signals that it sends -- to Apple).

That said, I have to say that the iTunes store website is also slowly (but steadily) beginning to look like cluttered crap.
post #14 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by ijerryreturns View Post

I think what Apple should do here is integrate iTunes with the Amazon store in a non-intrusive way. This would allow you to still add the songs dynamically through iTunes while still shopping on Amazon...Perhaps allow one to surf to other music sites from within iTunes...

Excellent suggestion!
post #15 of 73
When you consider how much Apple probably makes off each track (pennies) and how much they spend keeping the site up (a considerable amount no doubt), I doubt they'll lose sleep over what's happened recently. They got what they wanted. The handwriting is probably on the wall for the big 4 anyway. How much longer before things sort the big 4 out of the picture as unnecessary middlemen? This time last year they thought they could buy legislation to secure their survival...now they're forced to do what they vowed against. They're a dying business model providing an increasingly unneeded service. Apple's bread and butter is the iPod and its software system.
post #16 of 73
This is great news for consumers. We are winning the anti DRM battle!
This is also great news for Apple as it is another sign that we're getting rid completely of the CD in a few years from now which translates into more iPods that can play music bought on any drm free store.

The big looser here is only one: Microsoft.
post #17 of 73
First HD DVD, now iTunes? What's next in 2008?
post #18 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


That said, I have to say that the iTunes store website is also slowly (but steadily) beginning to look like cluttered crap.

Especially with Microsoft Office 2008 splattered on the front page-right?
post #19 of 73
Personally I'll happily buy Apple's DRM'ed music over Amazon's every day of the week. Why? Best of the better file quallty of ACC. Even at the 128kbs bit rate, that most of Apple's is, it still sounds better that Amazon's out dated 256kbs MP3 format. Then if you are lucky you might get one of the DRM free 256kbs ACC files.

Personally I'm not trying to do anything illegal with my music, so I'll go DRM and quality over DRM-less and old technology.

Probably the only reason Amazon has to use MP3, is because most of the other music player manufactors are treating the consumer like cattle.
post #20 of 73
A major blow has been struck FOR iTunes the jukebox (since Amazon's downloader integrates nicely and automatically with iTunes). Also FOR iPods (the primary player people will use to play Amazon songs, and Apple's primary business interest in regards to music). Also FOR the iTunes Music Store--and iTunes Plus in particular--in the long run, since it's a step toward eliminating DRM and leaving the labels with no smart reason to keep avoiding iTunes Plus (I doubt Apple will be the one to give in and allow them to raise prices, when Amazon has been allowed to stay with .99). Also FOR the iTunes Music Store since it brings new download customers into the market, where iTunes is (and will remain for a long time) the leader with the largest selection and highest sales--so people who never downloaded before Amazon will already also know that iTunes is out there to try. Also FOR Apple's biggest product line, the Mac platform, since unlike Windows Media stores, this one is Mac-friendly, giving us now two great choices to buy from. And of course also FOR the iPhone, which Windows Media DRM won't support, but which will play MP3s.

But in the short term, it's a small blow AGAINST iTunes Music Store, as some portion of Amazon's new customers will be people who would have bought the same music from iTunes instead. And a BIG blow AGAINST Apple's biggest potential future threat: Microsoft and their quest for Microsoft-controlled DRM (user-unfriendly, consumer-unfriendly, and incompatible even with Microsoft's own products--and certainly incompatible with Macs and iPods).

As a satisfied Apple customer, using Macs, an iPod, and the iTunes Music Store, I am very pleased to see Amazon's success, and will happily shop there. My first choice will be iTunes Plus (superior MP4/AAC quality and iTunes ease/speed of searching). But my second choice will be Amazon, with DRM iTunes being a last option.
post #21 of 73
I smell two things. 1. collusion between the record labels "anybody but apple" which I believe is illegal.
and 2. the record labels looking for a scape goat, as in "see EU, Apple IS EVIL"

and I can't imagine Apple legal backing down from either.
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I don't see how an anti M$ stance can be seen as a bad thing on an Apple forum I really can't!

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post #22 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Especially with Microsoft Office 2008 splattered on the front page-right?

I am not sure what you mean. I had not visited the iTunes Store site for a couple of days, so I went over to check, based on your comment. I didn't see an ad for MS Office '08? (Unless I was missing something more subtle in your post.......)
post #23 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

First HD DVD, now iTunes? What's next in 2008?

What do you mean by "now iTunes"? Are you implying it is dying. The only thing affected will be audio purchases on the iTunes Store. If movie rentals appear next week then the iTunes Store will be getting a nice influx of new customers and revenue that make this discussion passe since Amazon tracks, as stated, will import into iTunes and iDevices nicely.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jaijaz View Post

Personally I'll happily buy Apple's DRM'ed music over Amazon's every day of the week. Why? Best of the better file quallty of ACC. Even at the 128kbs bit rate, that most of Apple's is, it still sounds better that Amazon's out dated 256kbs MP3 format. Then if you are lucky you might get one of the DRM free 256kbs ACC files.

Better quality audio results a great deal more from a higher bit rate than the use of a newer algorithm. At 256 kilobits per second MP3 trumps 128 kilobit per second AAC by a large margin.
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post #24 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by satchmo View Post

Many years ago, when I worked for a CD-ROM publishing company, the owner said, "Content is king".

Unfortunately without content, Apple is being played by those with. It seems like an "anybody but Apple" strategy to bring Apple down. How soon they forget where they were before iTunes and legal downloading.

Mac world is around the corner and my bet is that Steve will anounce all four record companies opening their DRM free content to Apple.
post #25 of 73
I think people are getting worked up over nothing. Labels are going with Amazon because they are still evaluating DRM free content.

The whole reason they started with Apple was because they only represented 3% of the market, they didn't want to sell by the song, but figured they could test the concept on the Mac platform.

Well, iTunes is the biggest digital music store in the world and can't be used as a test bed anymore. Sure, the fact that this could help Amazon is there, but the reality is, Amazon can only get so far.

As someone mentioned, it is Apple who wins in the end - they never cared about money from Music sales, they just wanted you to be able to play your content on a Mac.
post #26 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by the cool gut View Post

I think people are getting worked up over nothing. Labels are going with Amazon because they are still evaluating DRM free content.

The whole reason they started with Apple was because they only represented 3% of the market, they didn't want to sell by the song, but figured they could test the concept on the Mac platform.

Well, iTunes is the biggest digital music store in the world and can't be used as a test bed anymore.
...

Good thoughts.

In any case, while only one next-gen DVD format may survive, multiple music stores can survive. Some people talk as though ANYONE else finding ANY success means that iTunes won't be #1 anymore. In fact, some suggest that iTunes will QUICKLY not be #1 anymore. In fact... some go so far as to suggest iTunes' Doom Doesn't really make a lot of sense.
post #27 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by the cool gut View Post


As someone mentioned, it is Apple who wins in the end - they never cared about money from Music sales, they just wanted you to be able to play your content on a Mac.

Certainly Apple does comes out ahead of the game. But moving forward, this alliance against Apple may initiate sales of other MP3 devices/phones and perhaps lessen the iPod dominance.

That said, recent reports are that MP3 players are reaching a saturation point. So this "victory" of sorts by Amazon and the big four may be a little to late.

The challenge is to see whether or not Apple can duplicate this success with movies and AppleTV v.2.
post #28 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by ijerryreturns View Post

I think what Apple should do here is integrate iTunes with the Amazon store in a non-intrusive way. This would allow you to still add the songs dynamically through iTunes while still shopping on Amazon...Perhaps allow one to surf to other music sites from within iTunes...

So you can buy the same song for the same price somewhere else?
post #29 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Porchland View Post

So you can buy the same song for the same price somewhere else?

I think he was suggesting you could get a better quality, DRM-free song for a better price at the same place. The iTunes Store is just a proprietary web browser. Apple could connect to Amazon quite easily should Amazon and their contract with the labels permit.
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post #30 of 73
We the consumer win and It started with Napster not iTunes.
post #31 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

We the consumer win and It started with Napster not iTunes.

What started with the consumer? DRM-free downloads? Yes. But it was Napster (ie: illegal file sharing) that soured the idea for the music industry of selling music downloads on the internet to begin with. Not that they wouldn't have been acted the same way, but they sure made it tough after Napster.
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post #32 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walter Slocombe View Post

I smell two things. 1. collusion between the record labels "anybody but apple" which I believe is illegal.

Really. thats interesting i did not know this,

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAC4U View Post

Mac world is around the corner and my bet is that Steve will anounce all four record companies opening their DRM free content to Apple.

I suspect this also
post #33 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by MAC4U View Post

Mac world is around the corner and my bet is that Steve will anounce all four record companies opening their DRM free content to Apple.

I agree with you. Let's see what macworld has in store.
post #34 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by ijerryreturns View Post

I think what Apple should do here is integrate iTunes with the Amazon store in a non-intrusive way. This would allow you to still add the songs dynamically through iTunes while still shopping on Amazon...Perhaps allow one to surf to other music sites from within iTunes...

A local NPR radio station here in Los Angeles, California (www.kcrw.org), used to directly link songs they played on the radio with both iTunes and Amazon (or a link to the album before Amazon got into selling MP3's); but now their play list links to Amazon.
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post #35 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiMiC View Post

When will my current purchases be unlocked?

As soon as you burn those purchases to CD and then rip them back into iTunes. Depending on how many protected AAC files you have, it might just be the work of a single evening. And yet, a month from now, there will still be people asking that same question.
post #36 of 73
In some sense, it may be good for Apple in case they want to go seriously with movie rental service.

When talking about movie, it is a HUGE file to download, and eats up a lot of bandwidth doing so.

Better to free those low value added content to a higher margin service. Apple gets peanuts from music now a day. Switching to focus more on movie is a reasonable stragegy to find a new bigger cake.
post #37 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by the cool gut View Post

I...
As someone mentioned, it is Apple who wins in the end - they never cared about money from Music sales, they just wanted you to be able to play your content on a Mac.



Could you clarify this statement. It sounds funny. "They (Apple) never cared about money from music sales". Please. So if Apple doesn't care about "the money" I am assuming that any little bit of money earned is being spent on those less fortunate than us (maybe those reading this topic on a Windows computer).
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post #38 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I am not sure what you mean. I had not visited the iTunes Store site for a couple of days, so I went over to check, based on your comment. I didn't see an ad for MS Office '08? (Unless I was missing something more subtle in your post.......)

Sorry - thought you said the Apple on-line store.
post #39 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by the cool gut View Post


As someone mentioned, it is Apple who wins in the end - they never cared about money from Music sales, they just wanted you to be able to play your content on a Mac.

You must be kiddding-right? Then why offer it for sale in the first place? Apple even wants you to buy more music at Starbucks! Thank god the internet is free. If Apple could, they would sell access to the internet as well.
post #40 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

You must be kiddding-right? Then why offer it for sale in the first place? Apple even wants you to buy more music at Starbucks! Thank god the internet is free. If Apple could, they would sell access to the internet as well.

Nothing's free. You just haven't noticed where you are subsidizing it.
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