Now this is cool.
Today Amazon announced AutoRip, a new, although inevitable, feature of their Cloud. Whenever you buy a CD it’s content is now automatically ripped to your Amazon Cloud Player. For free. Oh, and it’s not CDs you buy at Amazon as of today. It’s any CD you’ve bought at Amazon since 1999. Fifteen years’ worth of music purchases, now all automatically in your cloud for free. No more spending time putting the CD into the computer, labeling tracks, hoping the rip goes through okay, loading the songs onto your portable device, etc. No more of that, ever. Amazon has just paid your opportunity cost in exchange for your purchase; it’s like opportunity “cash back.”
Music and movies have taken opposite purchasing paths. With movies, physical media is still the big seller and digital copies of the film for download or streaming are a bonus that come with the purchase (a bonus one pays for as part of the price of the film overall, by the way). But music has gone the opposite way. Music physical media sales go down while MP3 album and single sales go up. If someone wants both, they have to buy the CD and rip the MP3. With this move, I think Amazon is saying physical media could potentially be around a little longer than people anticipated. For me, if the price between a CD and its MP3-only counterpart is the same or negligible, I go with the physical media every time and rip the CD for my phone and PC. Now I can still do that and have the bonus of that work cut for me. It’s as if Amazon is potentially making the MP3 album the (free!) bonus, not the main course.
Amazon already took the inevitable step forward iTunes couldn’t, to make MP3 albums available DRM-protection free. Download and copy your music as much as you want; it’s yours so use it. And AutoRip is clearly the inevitable next step forward and it’s exciting. I will say automatically ripping all of my past purchases was the dream in this next step and that it’s a reality is gravy. It’s yet one more reason for me to make my CD purchases at Amazon. And yeah, I still buy CDs because the audio quality is always better than even the best MP3 (if I’m wrong and it’s a psychosomatic thing, fine, but let me know how because it sure seems that way).
I was surprised to find I’ve only bought 30 of my 500+ CDs at Amazon in the last fifteen years. And of those 30, several are double albums (Amazon counts each disc as one album). But I also haven’t bought as much music in the last few years, either, and when I did buy it was from whoever had the best price or would have it in stock so I could pick it up day one. In college and as a young man that usually meant a trip to Best Buy. These days it’s Amazon MP3 records or eMusic, another pretty good service. It’s only been in the last few years I’ve really become an Amazon fanboy, though, so that’s probably the main reason there are only 30 records to my advantage in this. Of course, that’s 30 as of today. Something tells me it will be many more in the future.
I do wonder about those who have purchased vinyl albums instead of CDs. Will the record hounds get in on this deal, too?
What about you? How many CDs have you bought at Amazon in the last 15 years? Will it entice you to buy more CDs from Amazon more in the future? And what’s the next inevitable step forward?