Amazon MP3 is a digital music store owned and operated by Amazon.com. Launched in public beta on September 25, 2007, in January 2008 it became the first music store to sell music without digital rights management (DRM) from the four major music labels (EMI, Universal, Warner Music, and Sony BMG), as well as many independents. All tracks were originally sold in 256 kilobits-per-second variable bitrate MP3 format without per-customer watermarking or DRM, however some tracks are now watermarked. Licensing agreements with recording companies restrict the countries in which music can be sold: Amazon.com only sells music to US customers while Amazon.co.uk only sells music to UK customers.
After the United States, Amazon MP3 was launched in the United Kingdom on December 3, 2008, in Germany on April 1, 2009, and in France on June 10, 2009. The German edition is available in Austria and Switzerland since December 3, 2009.
At launch, Amazon offered “over 2 million songs from more than 180,000 artists and over 20,000 labels, including EMI Music and Universal Music Group”, to customers located in the United States only. In December 2007 Warner Music announced that it would offer its catalog on Amazon MP3 and in January 2008, Sony BMG followed suit. The current catalog is 11.13 million songs.
In January 2008, Amazon announced plans to roll Amazon MP3 out “internationally”. Amazon limits international access by checking users’ credit card issued country. The first international version was launched December 3, 2008 in the United Kingdom. A German and then a French version of the store followed.
Amazon MP3’s catalog is accessible from the Amazon.com web site by searching for an artist or title name. To download purchased music, Amazon.com offers the Amazon MP3 Downloader which is optional for individual tracks and required for album purchases. The Downloader is available for Windows (XP, Vista, or 7), Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, and Linux (packages are provided for Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and openSUSE), although the Linux versions are not consistently updated to be compliant with the most recent releases and are not available for 64-bit architectures. Since March 2008 respectively December 2009 there exist the free alternative downloaders clamz and pymazon for Linux.
It saves purchased music into a particular folder and can, at the user’s discretion, add purchased tracks to the library in Windows Media Player (Windows only) or iTunes (Windows and Mac OS X only) automatically after download.
An Amazon MP3 application for the Android mobile device platform is preloaded on T-Mobile G1 and Droid smartphones. The application allows mobile phone users to download individual tracks and albums when on a Wi-Fi network. Palm phones based on webOS have a preloaded Amazon MP3 application as well and users may download tracks over Wi-Fi or cellular networks. The media management application doubleTwist for Mac OS X and Windows also has an integrated Amazon MP3 store which enables users to search, buy and sync MP3s directly to non-Apple devices. The Amazon MP3 app 3 cannot be removed without rooting the phone and voiding its warranty.