Amazon to bring DRM-free music store to Europe

Amazon has announced it's set to launch international versions of its popular DRM-free music download store, and the the UK could be the first to get in on the action

Amazon has announced its DRM-free MP3 music download store will be going international later this year, according to a statement made by the company yesterday.

So it's time to crack open the champagne and open a fresh box of party poppers. Well, almost time -- Amazon hasn't announced specific dates yet. When Amazon launched in 1995 over in the States though, it quickly found itself opening shop in the UK just three years later. We'd certainly expect the UK to be among the fist countries outside the US to get the service.

For those of you wondering what the hubbub is about, Amazon's MP3 store is the first to offer DRM-free music downloads from every major record label, alongside thousands of independent labels. This is way beyond what iTunes and eMusic offer, combined. It has garnered a positive reception in the industry, not to mention from consumers -- anything downloaded from the store can be freely burnt to CD, and transferred to pretty much any music player, without risk of incompatibility or file expiration.

"We have received thousands of emails from Amazon customers around the world asking us when we will make Amazon MP3 available outside of the US... We are excited to tell those customers today that Amazon MP3 is going international this year," said Bill Carr, a top digital music honcho at Amazon.

But how does Amazon compare with what's already offered here in the UK? Well, iTunes currently only offers DRM-free downloads from one major label -- EMI -- which was an industry first when the deal was struck last year. eMusic and 7digital both offer great selections of DRM-free downloads, but neither -- even combined -- boast as much choice from major labels as Amazon, meaning the industry leaders in digital downloads are set to have their international feathers severely ruffled.

There's no talk of pricing, either. Amazon is extremely competitive in the US though, and it'll need to be here, too. iTunes now sells DRM-free 'iTunes Plus' tracks for 79p in the UK, a price mirrored by 7digital.

We'll keep you duly posted as news breaks, which hopefully won't be a gazillion years from now. Don't be afraid to check out the new episode of Encoded -- CNET TV's new music show hosted by yours truly -- while you wait, o'er yonder. -Nate Lanxon

 

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