From Daring Fireball: More on the Amazon MP3 Store:

Amazon’s single pricing is based on track length. Songs that are more than seven minutes long cost $1.94, songs more than 14 minutes cost even more. This isn't necessarily a bad deal compared to iTunes — Apple makes many of these tracks album-only. E.g. Pink Floyd's 23-minute-long "Atom Heart Mother": $3.87 from Amazon, album-only from iTunes.


This does, however, put a real premium on some songs, doesn't it? Want to grab a bit more for a popular single? Release it exclusively as a 7:01 version... Wonder how Amazon cuts royalties on those? More importantly, if you want to sell competitively, you'd better keep it under 7. I've got a recording of Bob Langford on WPTF 680 AM talking about how you could tell the "good" DJs years ago because they'd play the "birdies" at the end of Clapton's Layla. This seems similar somehow.

Interesting also that Amazon sells albums as albums if the artists/labels choose without a la cart tracks.

In any event, the competition from Amazon is, all things considered, welcome, I believe, though perhaps less so from my position as an Apple shareholder. By showing the viability of DRM-less music sales to the music labels, Apple's opened the door to some serious iTunes Music Store competition for those willing to leave DRM behind. If you can get 256k mp3s for 89¢ compared to AACs for 99¢ (and $1.29 for DRM-less ones), why not? Won't Apple eventually have to budge a bit? Offer albums for artists that don't want to sell individual tracks? Offer, eg, twelve track albums at a significant savings ($7-8) like Amazon is in many cases? Etc. The market's several years behind Apple, but it's finally starting to free itself up a bit.

In some ways, we're simply arguing over who will have dogs in the digital music fight. Music labels are in. Mp3 player hardware manufacturers are in. Online stores are in. DRM coders (listening, Microsoft?) are on the way out.

And finally, is it that Apple really doesn't care so much about selling music? Though I find it surprising, at this point, I'm not sure how else to take Jobs' letter saying that DRM-less music sales are the way to go. DRM'd AAC lock you in to iPods, and Apple wants to sell iPods. If you can't take your library with you to another device, you're more likely to stick with what you've already got when you upgrade. So DRM'd AAC libraries would seem to lock you into iPods. DRM-less music removes at least one barrier to entry to entering the mp3 player [hardware] market. Is Apple confident they can win on the player front, no matter what? I guess, thinking as I type, they're more likely to continue winning the player market than the music sales market, and would like to ensure that the standard way of distributing tracks is iPod friendly, but when you're winning, why concede anything? Probably because you, ultimately, don't have a choice. If you want your player to play tracks you rip from CDs, unless you're going to DRM them mid-rip (hello, Microsoft Media Player and/or Sony's rootkit player fun. Those worked grrrr-eat!), you'll always have an open door for DRM-less trackige.

Blather blather.