Amazon had a big announcement on Thursday — especially if you own a Kindle. They introduced AutoRip, “a new service that gives customers free MP3 versions of CDs they purchase from Amazon.” Now when you buy a music CD from Amazon, they’ll automatically add digital versions of every song for you into Amazon’s “Cloud Player”. And to inaugurate this new feature, I discovered that Amazon actually went back in time, and delivered digital versions of songs I’d purchased more than 10 years ago!
“You may have noticed that songs from 8 CDs you have purchased from Amazon were added to your Cloud Player library,” read the e-mail that Amazon sent me. “This means that high-quality MP3 versions of these songs are available for you to play or download from Cloud Player for FREE.” There’s a music tab on the Kindle Fire, but you can also enjoy the music on most of the e-ink Kindles, too. Just use your USB cord to upload the mp3s onto any Kindle that has audio capability!
In fact, you don’t even need a Kindle to enjoy the new digital music. There’s an “Amazon Mp3” app that’s available for free for most smartphones, including the iPhone, the iPad, and Android phones. I like listening to music at work, but I hadn’t gotten around to uploading any mp3s to my new smartphone — and that’s where the app really comes in handy. One day at work, I discovered that the mp3s that I’d bought earlier from Amazon were already waiting for me on their server.
You can tell that Amazon’s excited about this feature. “What would you say if you bought music CDs from a company 15 years ago,” explained Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “and then 15 years later that company licensed the rights from the record companies to give you the MP3 versions of those CDs…and then to top it off, did that for you automatically and for free? Well, starting today, it’s available to all of our customers – past, present, and future – at no cost. We love these opportunities to do something unexpected for our customers!”
And of course, Amazon’s press release took a shot at the way digital music is being sold by Apple. “In many cases, customers can buy an AutoRip CD, including the free digital copy, for less than they would pay for only the digital album at iTunes,” their press release boasted Thursday. But they also touted an even simpler advantage. “No more waiting for the CD to arrive!”
I was so impressed, I had to check the fine print to make sure — but their offer really is as good as it sounds, going back more than 14 years. “Customers who have purchased AutoRip CDs at any time since Amazon first opened its Music Store in 1998 will find MP3 versions of those albums in their Cloud Player libraries,” explains Amazon announcement, “also automatically and for free. More than 50,000 albums, including titles from every major record label, are available for AutoRip, and more titles are added all the time – customers can just look for the AutoRip logo.”
Once back in 2003 I bought myself a two-CD compilation of 32 songs by the Beach Boys — and this weekend, I noticed that every single one had turned up in my Cloud Player as a digital .mp3. Next time I’m listening to music at work, that ought to make things a lot more cheerful.