Can AutoRip, Amazon’s answer to iTunes, also revive the music CD?

By , Jan 10, 2013

Music CDs

Amazon is taking another run at Apple, this time targeting iTunes. The online retail giant is hoping to increase its digital music market share by offering consumers free digital copies of purchased CDs. Hoping for a trifecta of sorts, the company looks to improve the fate of its Amazon MP3 service, increase exposure of it Cloud Player, while also chipping away at iTunes’ 50 percent marke tshare.

Amazon AutoRip stores digital copies of among 50,000 eligible CD titles in the cloud. Music CD buyers automatically can play or download the digital versions using Cloud Player. The move, which seems similar to an earlier attempt to revive DVD sales, is now viewed as potentially reviving physical CD sales which iTunes essentially killed…

While the AutoRip service – with which Amazon  hopes to “go global” – includes such modern-day hits as Adele’s “21″ and Maroon 5′s “Overexposed.” Along with classics such as Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the new service will work with “a substantial majority of our physical CD sales,” Steve Boom, Amazon’s digital music chief, told Reuters Thursday.

Amazon sees its new service as potentially eating into iTunes revenue  since AutoRip-eligible CDs supposedly cost less then digital albums offered by Apple.

A media release cites these features:

Free digital copies: Amazon customers who purchase AutoRip CDs get free MP3 versions of the albums delivered directly to their Cloud Player libraries – automatically, immediately, and at no cost – no more hassling with ripping CDs and finding a way to get them onto your favorite devices.

For CD purchases dating back to 1998: MP3 versions of AutoRip CDs that customers have purchased since the launch of Amazon’s music store in 1998 will also be delivered to their Cloud Player libraries for free.

Enjoy everywhere: Music can be played instantly from any Kindle Fire, Android phone or tablet, iPhone, iPod touch, Samsung TVs, Roku, Sonos, and any web browser, giving customers the freedom to enjoy music from more devices than any other major cloud locker music service.

Free storage and backup: All AutoRip MP3s are stored for free in customers’ Cloud Player libraries and do not count against Cloud Player storage limits. Customers can buy music and know that it is safely stored in Cloud Player and accessible from any compatible device.

Of course, along with promoting more compact disc sales for Amazon, the new feature will make the company’s Cloud Player service more familiar. While Cloud Player should get more use now that the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet is in more hands, the fact that the application is also available for all iOS devices doesn’t hurt the Internet retailer’s bid against iTunes.

If you’ve followed the decline and attempts to revive various physical media, Amazon’s AutoRip seems to follow the same tone as the movie industry’s UltraViolet program, which offered consumers a digital version when purchasing a physical DVD.

iTunes 11 (Albums)

Walmart – which Apple crushed as the largest seller of music CDs – was looking anxiously as Netflix and Redbox did the same to physical video sales. In response, the world’s largest retailer announced a clunky program where consumers could take their DVDs and have digital copies uploaded to Walmart’s servers.

The “clunky” part was consumers had to go to their local Walmart with DVDs in hand. While the retailer recently said it will do away with that middle step, letting you upload the DVD at home. To its credit, Amazon saw the insanity of physically taking a physical DVD into a brick-and-mortar store – all to convert it to digital.

Walmart music

In the end, it is questionable whether AutoRip will help Amazon’s assault on iTunes. If anything, consumers are creatures of habit. We’re so accustomed to think digital when shopping for music and iTunes when buying. Apple has won that mind share by providing a wide array of linkages from its devices to its services, such as iTunes.

Amazon’s best weapon against the digital shopping mall known as iTunes may or may not be AutoRip. However, the company’s best move to counter Apple likely was the Kindle Fire, opening another platform for purchases and building a devices capable of providing more links for digital purchases.

In that way, Amazon is using Apple’s own playbook to compete against Cupertino.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    i had to throw away 2500 css that j had ripped cause no store would buy them from me cause i did not have cases for them..

  • http://twitter.com/FlyKitezDaily Louie

    Itunes its shit, yeh its convient But you dont even get a 320kbs copy and that matters. 256kbs rip off, the fact that you dont even own it is a proper kick in the balls. i love apple products but they are cunts tbh

    • 4p0c4lyps3

      Cunts, yes they are.

    • http://www.facebook.com/linton.findlay Linton Findlay

      if apple supported 320kbps as standard they would get alot more custom from audiophiles who care about sound quality. i myself find that 256kbps is good and there isnt much sound quality difference when you consider the giant file sizes you get from 320kbps

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

        99% of people listening to music don’t have any equipment good e enough to hear the difference between 256 and 320…lol so may as well go with 256 and save bandwidth..!!!

    • Adil Hussain

      Erm, the ’256kbps rip-off’s are actually better than the 320kbps mp3s you find on the net to be honest, plus they have proper tags :)

      • http://twitter.com/FlyKitezDaily Louie

        LOL all music i buy has tags (dont know what sites you have used in the past), i dj vinyl and mp3, ask any dj that uses mp3s, 320 or wav is the only quality they will use. i know most people wont know the difference BUT its a piss take they dont give you 320. the way i see it is why would you pay for something when you can get it for better quality for the same price. on the whole itunes a good for your average music listener, but for “audiophiles”it matters big time.

      • disqusted

        He does have a valid and correct point, though. In codec consideration, 256kbps AAC encodes are of generally higher quality than the same track encoded as 320kbps MP3.

        It’s just a matter of semantics.

        MP3– which was first part of the MPEG-1 standard, then extended to MPEG-2 Layer III was finalized as a codec over 20 years ago! 1992 was the original standard approval, with amendments, but always based on a legacy foundation in the ground technology/codec. The specific dates and years aren’t the point… the AGE and LIMITATION is the point.

        AAC is based originally on the MPEG-2 standard, but the MPEG-4 standard variation is what’s obviously used today. I encourage you to look up AAC (and MP3 even) on Wikipedia and read it thoroughly, you’ll be more educated, trust me (BTW, I’m not inferring you’re NOT educated, as I used the word “more”, but no one is above learning SOMETHING new here and there; myself included).

        I see your argument and appreciate that you’re saying if you’re going to give people 256, why not 320? Unfortunately, that argument is moot– 320 is not the “highest” bitrate you can use; you can go past 320… so, your limit is going to be a practical one of at what point does it become more efficient to simply use LOSSLESS encoding? In that case, why not ALAC (Apple Lossless)? You reach a point of diminishing returns when increasing bitrate in pursuit of increasing audio clarity and fidelity. You’ll end up with an unnecessarily massive LOSSY output file… which would just be asinine if a LOSSLESS encoder could produce a smaller output file, right? ;)

        Obviously, WAV/AIFF are lossless formats and the clear “audiophile” way to go– actually a format like FLAC or other LOSSLESS codecs (everyone has their favorites, mine happens to be FLAC) are the absolute wisest, as they’re bit-perfect, but weighing in at only ~70% the size of the original uncompressed audio file… for the audiophile. Haw haw.

        Either way, the original point is don’t be so quick to ignorantly and blindly assume that AAC is somehow inferior to MP3 as a codec. It’s not. LAME has made great improvements over the original “Frauf” licensed version (or, maybe more properly to say/credit the RADIUM MP3 codec, which reverse engineered the original… leading to the “open sourcing” of the codec– and is to be thanked for making MP3 the de-facto standard by spearheading the massive public adoption of the codec to begin with)… but AAC was created from the ground up, based on newer generation encoding algorithms. Just look at a (basic, yet practical) example of how technology and codecs improve dramatically upon revision or recreation– compare MPEG-2 (DVD) to AVC (Bluray). You have a dual-benefit of the newer codec– it a) at the same bitrate, produce a smaller encoded file size or b) create an output file of equal quality using less space. The base/hinge being on either file size, or quality as the measuring factor. (It’s really the same thing stated two different ways I think, LOL– forgive me, it’s 6am… I’m not 100% right now). There are also c) psychovisual enhancements that minimize artifacting (blurring, blocking, dithering, etc) by applying our knowledge of human perception. Same is true of audio, in psychoacoustics! And psychoacoustic modeling is employed both in LAME/MP3 encoding as well as AAC. :D

        Anything to add, Louie? Insights, or anything you may have learned or can contribute to this discussion further? I enjoy an educated conversation with open-minded people, which I will presume you are open-minded and aren’t afraid to admit your mistakes when realized (as I am, if you or anyone has counter-evidence to any claims that I have made, I am more than humble to admit when I am wrong and obviously advancing my education and knowledge is the reason I’m encouraging further discussion here).

        Come back with something to school me or the others with (I’m not being sarcastic, I’m being serious… I’d love to learn something new)…

  • http://www.facebook.com/randle1 Phil Randle

    Who the hell still cares for CDs? I don’t even have a player capable of playing CDs anymore. iTunes is to convenient for anyone to switch, it’s quick has licences for nearly everything that comes out and they get lots of exclusives. I don’t think this will work, the best thing that happened is getting rid of all those CDs in space on one large hard drive.

    • http://twitter.com/FlyKitezDaily Louie

      the fact is alot of people prefer to have a physical cd/vinyl i know i do and i do believe it will never properly fade out. There will always be people that feel this way, there is nothing better than having the artwork that comes with it instead of a jpeg image sitting on a screen, if you have brought the cd legit just rip it on and hey best of both worlds, itunes is shit you dont even get the highest quality mp3 anyway rip off! and another thing i really despise the way you cant download a song off any site onto a iphone then place it in your ipod FFS blackberrys can do this and that is saying something and yet i payed £700 for my iphone 5 fuck apple

      • 4p0c4lyps3

        Very well put. +1

      • disqusted

        Louie is absolutely right. My view is this, and it’s rational:

        If I can get a physical disc, with album art, liner notes, lyrics… and by its very nature, an uncompressed, lossless audio source– which I can choose my own encoder to digitize, the codec, bitrate, tagging format, etc to listen to– why the hell would I chose a lossy, codec & bitrate locked format?

        Physical = flexible, not to mention– call me old school if that’s what I am, but like Louie said– I like having something physical to show for my money. There’s a certain connection to music that is lost in the digital age. That literal physical album; as stupid as it sounds, it’s part of human psychological connection to the music. That can’t be denied. Anyone who prefers (or like me, insists) on the “real thing” understands this, obviously.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      took me weeks to rip all those damn CDs of mine from the 90s…lol

    • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.gilbreath Kyle Gilbreath

      I still purchase cds because I like to own someone physical.

  • Mohammad Ridwan

    lol.. I still pirate.. xD

  • 4p0c4lyps3

    Lame, yes.

  • http://twitter.com/parky190 Parker Crain

    How much will it cost?

  • Ben

    You said “50 percent marke tshare.” Error alert.

  • sjah07

    “Walmart – which Apple crushed as the largest seller of music CDs –…”

    Apple did not crush Walmart as the largest seller of music CDs! Apple does not even sell music CDs! iTunes was definitely more successful than Walmart’s digital music offering, but that has nothing to do with Walmart’s sales of physical discs.

    • disqusted

      Does Walmart sell explicit copies of CD’s these days? Old people like me will remember the days when they sold nothing but “clean” versions. The last time I looked through Walmart’s CD’s, I noticed an awfully lot of the alternative euphemism, “amended” versions. Aka, clean… Lol. What, are they tricking me into thinking it means bonus content?! The Amendments added extra stuff to the Constitution of the US, right! Well– no, technically, amendments are sort of “extra” stuff– but they are ultimately “corrections” or “reformations” to the original content, lol.