I’m a big fan of iTune’s, but I’ve never liked the fact that songs purchased via iTunes can only be synced with an iPod. Word out today is that Amazon is preparing a “DRM-free” music store that will allow users to download music and transfer that music to any mp3 player, including iPods, Zunes, iRiver devices, etc. The details of the new download service are still a bit “sketchy” but here’s a quote from the press release:
Amazon…announced it will launch a digital music store later this year offering millions of songs in the DRM-free MP3 format from more than 12,000 record labels
(Currently, iTunes offers “DRM-free” music from record label EMI.)
So, what’s the big deal about “DRM-free”. If you take a standard music cd and “rip” the audio to you hard drive and then convert the files to mp3, you end up with “DRM-free” music. Until now, if you purchased a track from most major online retailers, the file would contain “DRM” which limited what you could do with the track, the types of players that could play the file, etc. Now, with “DRM-free” music, you can use whatever player you want, burn the tracks to a cd, and, one would assume, share the file among several computers.
There are many people who know a LOT more about “DRM” and “DRM-free” than I do, but, as someone who owns four mp3 players from four different manufacturers, including my Apple iPod, I like the idea of being able to transfer my music to the player of my choice.
Of course, I don’t really purchase all that much music… I’m more of a “podcast” kinda dude. (DRM, by the way, stands for Digital Rights Management. Read more about that in this Wikipedia article on DRM.)