I know this topic is nothing new but it’s actually new to me. See, I’ve been a die-hard iTunes Store user ever since it’s debut in April of 2003. The first Apple product I ever bought was a second generation 10GB iPod that was purchased back in 2002. At that time, the only option for getting digital music was to either rip the CD you bought or to download MP3′s illegally off the internet from places like Limewire and Napster. Well those days changed when Apple opened it’s iTunes Music Store.
Back in the early 80′s I was a wanna be rock star. I used to play guitar and play in a cool local band. In those days you either bought the complete album, cassette tape or CD (mid-late 80′s) and you used to listen to the whole album, not just one or two songs. Fast forward to the present and now a lot of the music being produced is not worth buying the complete album. I know, I know, it goes against all I was back in the 80′s but it’s true.
So this is where iTunes shines, at least for me. I can launch iTunes, go to the iTunes Store and either search for the artist/group or view by genres and find some interesting music to download. No more buying the full CD for only a few (at most ) songs that are really worth the purchase. And for only $.99 per song, how can you go wrong?
Last month I made a purchase from Amazon that qualified me for a five dollar credit to the Amazon MP3 Store. That was cool I thought but I’ve never shopped for music on Amazon. I knew they had a download manager that plugs right into iTunes, or at least sticks the downloaded file into your iTunes library for you. But again, I’ve never used it. So now I had no excuse, I’ve got a five dollar Amazon MP3 credit. It’s off to the store.
Obviously, the interface is a lot different than what I’m used to in iTunes. There are similarities like the list of genres and the ability to do a search for a particular song or artist. Spending a few minutes on the site will have you finding music in no time.
For me, one of the most used features of iTunes is the top 100 songs per genre. Amazon has a similar feature but you don’t get the easy to use interface of iTunes where you can preview each song in the list without having to leave the list. That is a big negative for me.
Another feature I use all the time in iTunes is the ability to place music into the shopping cart before the purchase. By doing this I can go back through my cart to make sure I want everything in there. Also, the cart will add up all the tunes and allow me to purchase all with one click unlike Amazon where it seems you can only purchase only one song at a time. At least that’s what I’ve experienced so far.
So although there are some major differences in the two interfaces, the Amazon MP3 Store and downloader are easy to use. The Amazon MP3 downloader integrates well with the Safari browser and automatically places the purchased music into your iTunes Library.
Another feature of the Amazon store is that the actual files are in either variable bit rate or non-variable bit rate mp3′s encoded at 256Kbps and are DRM free; which is nice compared to the protected AAC files from iTunes.
Not only are the Amazon files higher quality and DRM free, they cost less than iTunes. The Amazon MP3 downloads cost from $.79 – $.99 where as iTunes are set at a $.99 flat rate.
Personally, I like that there is an option when it comes to legal downloading of music from the internet. However, for me, I will most likely stick with iTunes since I typically purchase more than ten songs at a time and the one click purchase make that easy. But for the occasional one or two downloads, I may consider using Amazon since the price is right and the files are DRM free.
So if you haven’t given Amazon MP3 a try, you should do so. With it’s downloader, lower price and DRM free music it’s hard to beat. If Amazon is not your thing and iTunes is, your not missing much.