As I touched upon recently, CDs are going out of style quicker than… [insert humorous analogy here]. The point is, despite the fact that CDs still comprise the majority of overall music sales, their novelty has quickly worn off, and that’s almost entirely due to the ever-burgeoning popularity of digital sources.
It need not be emphasized that the undisputed king of those digital music sources is Apple’s iTunes Store, which last year claimed roughly 64% of the digital music market and close to 30% of all music sold, regardless of the format. Prior to the launching of the store in 2003 (as well as the more general popularization of digital music throughout the decade), Amazon was quickly becoming the go-to source for physical music, as it siphoned away customers from traditional retail stores like Best Buy and Tower Records. Now that digital sources are slowly diluting the relevance of CDs, what’s Amazon to do if they want to realize their ultimate goal of world dom… I mean, retail monopolization? After all, Amazon MP3 isn’t close to achieving the success that the iTunes Store has.
Enter AutoRip — an appeal to those reluctant to relinquish their plastic discs, but technophilic enough to take advantage of the cloud. Launched officially on January 10, AutoRip does exactly that: when you purchase a designated AutoRip CD on Amazon, you’ll have the option to have it automatically ripped (der) to your Amazon Cloud Player for free, as 256 kbps MP3 files. In other words, it saves you the hassle of having to rip and upload the CD yourself.
Additionally, if you purchased CDs from Amazon since 1998, “AutoRip eligible songs” will be added to your Cloud Player library as well, supposedly, like… right now.
All of this sounds very interesting, but of course there are a few lingering questions. First, will the selection of CDs qualifying for AutoRip improve in the future? Reportedly, the current catalog consists of over 50,000 albums, but a search of some relatively popular artists (Animal Collective, Kanye West, Four Tet, etc.) suggests that it’s not yet comprehensive. Second, in the future, will we have any control over the resulting file type ripped to the cloud? True, most people probably don’t care, but a sub-feature like that might be a draw for some people (including myself).
• Amazon: http://www.amazon.com