On a whim, I just downloaded the Amazon MP3 Downloader. My first "purchase"—a free example— was an Apples in Stereo track that may be some default or perhaps Amazon got it from my recommendations (they’re a decent band, and this will prompt me to give their last album another listen).
Because I was signed in to Amazon—flaunting real security for positional security, I’m always signed into everything—I was able to buy the album using Amazon’s One-Click. I hit a button, Amazon asked me to open a file with their downloader, and in under two minutes, I had the whole album, in beautiful 320kbps MP3, sans DRM.
Having traditionally preferred discs to digital, and shunning iTunes, the colossal flaw with the iPod, I was surprised how easy this was. My experiences with the old MSN Music store and it’s spiritual descendant Urge were nowhere near as easy or fast.
I think this album downloaded faster from Amazon than a single Dave Brubeck track from MSN, for example.
A very nice feature, with perhaps two flaws, is that the downloader will automatically add your purchases to either your iTunes or Windows Media library.
The only changes I would want are 1) the ability to add to both libraries simultaneously, and 2) the ability to customize the directory structure of the downloads. It would be nice if I could say "
%artist%\%album%\%num%-%artist%-%title%.mp3" (and yes, I am aware I have a bizarre naming scheme, and yes, I assume everything uses WordPress style variables).
On the whole, this is a very pleasant entrant into the mêlée that is the music downloading business. You need to use Amazon’s oft-cluttered site to do your searching, but at least the familiar should be easy, and there’s no deep discount over other stores, Amazon’s well-known source of power. But the combination of speed, high quality tracks, Amazonian reputation and, most importantly, the utter lack of DRM, makes Amazon my immediate favorite.