Just read about Amazon’s new online music store that features millions of songs for sale without any digital rights management junk. Yeah! My question, before I jump in, can I access the store on my Mac, and if so, can I then put the new music into iTunes and thence onto my iPod?
You’re asking what is the most obvious question now that Amazon’s just announced and launched its much awaited AmazonMP3 online music store. As you’ll see when you read through this article, with millions of titles and pricing just a wee bit lower than the popular Apple iTunes Store (formerly the “iTunes Music Store”), Amazon might well be the first viable competitor to Apple in the online music space. And being able to sidestep the hassles of DRM is a splendid bonus that’s sure to please many thousands of people.
More importantly for people who have purchased non-Apple mp3 players just to find that the music you bought and downloaded from the iTunes Store ain’t compatible and there’s no way to legally convert it so you can listen to it on your device, this hassle does not apply to Amazon Mp3 downloaded music. Apple’s DRM strategy is pretty lame, actually, as I realize each time I plug one of my many iPods into a computer other than its “paired” system.
However, all isn’t tea and roses: One hassle with the Amazon Mp3 store is that it requires that you download and use its own download utility on your computer, similar to Amazon Unboxed, the online video and movie store sponsored by Amazon that hasn’t seemed to have taken off after receiving a lot of launch publicity. The download app itself is a good place to start, so that’s what I did, downloading the AmazonMp3 download utility.
The good news? According to the download information page, the Amazon Mp3 download tool “automatically adds your music downloads to iTunes or Windows Media Player”. Cool. Problem already solved!
But, uh, let’s go through the steps anyway so we can see how easy it is to work with the new Amazon Mp3 store anyway…
Doesn’t take long to download the utility, and now you’ll see this:
Launch it and you’ll see the dreaded “1.0.0″ version number, which is always a tiny bit risky (or, hopefully, you’ll see something that’s been fixed and tweaked so it won’t be 1.0.0, meaning it’ll be more stable and bug-free):
Next thing you’ll find is that the download tool wants you to restart all your open Web browsers. Do that and it should be integrated into your online experience from now on, making shopping a breeze…
Once you reboot, you will find that the new installer is, well, installed:
Scroll down and you can see some of the dry humor of the Amazon team too. The suggested first test download? Energy, by The Apples in Stereo. I guess they couldn’t find a song called “Take That, Steve!” so this was the best option. Me, I would have suggested Stiff Competition from Cheap Trick.
I will resist buying any Cheap Trick, however, and instead buy a fun song from the talented Joe Jackson: Five Guys Named Moe. The actual purchase block on the Amazon page looks like this:
It confirms that’s what you want to do, adds the song to your shopping cart and blamo! starts downloading it, having charged you for the transaction without any further confirmation. I found it a bit jarring, personally, no “are you sure you want to buy this for $0.89?” or similar, but then again I also complain when programs ask me to confirm what I clearly want to do, so go figure.
Anyway, here’s what you see as it’s downloading:
Seconds later it’s downloaded and you’re left trying to figure out where it is. As with many download apps, you might expect to see it on your Desktop, or perhaps have a new “library” window pop up, but neither is the case. However, not to worry. Click on the song in the download utility, then click on “Reveal in Finder”, which will then show the directory structure in play:
As you can see, Amazon Mp3 creates a new directory “Amazon MP3″ in your “Music” folder, then organizes music by artist and album. Neat enough, but how to get it into iTunes?
It turns out that you don’t need to do anything because it already has been automatically added to your iTunes directory, as you can see when I look at my “Recently Added” playlist:
(Note also that “The Apples in Stereo” song Energy has been added too)
That’s all there is to it. Very nice, neatly organized, and, other than having to download a separate application for facilitating the transfer of music, darn easy. Well done, Amazon!
To add the newly downloaded song or songs to your iPod or Apple iPhone, simply drag the tracks in iTunes to the device’s “Library” and next time you sync, you’ll have it ready to play and enjoy. Shweet!