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Amazon UK MP3 store: Cheap and DRM-free

After months of waiting, Amazon has launched its DRM-free MP3 music store in the UK, with the backing of all four major record labels

After initially announcing it would bring its popular MP3-only download store to the UK, Amazon has this morning quietly launched the site in the UK, with single MP3s starting as cheap as 59p, and albums from £3.

All four major labels are on-board, providing three million tracks, alongside Beggars Banquet, The Orchard and many other independent labels.

Unlike Apple's iTunes, Amazon's MP3 store has no restrictions on the devices you can enjoy its music on. As plain MP3 files, downloads are compatible with iPods, Creative Zens, Sony Walkmans, and every other music player on the planet.

Heading over to the site, which is live right now, you can expect pop heavyweights such as Britney and penniless has-beens such as Take That, alongside plenty of decent artists.

Even long-time Internet download haters Metallica are available in MP3 format, with most songs priced at 69p -- a full 10p cheaper than the DRMed iTunes competition.

Our experience with using the service has been excellent. MP3s are encoded with the LAME encoder at the highest possible variable bit rate. Tracks come with embedded album artwork along with plenty of ID3 tag info, such as composer and year of recording.

You only get one download per song, however, so if your hard drive fails, don't expect to be able to log into Amazon to re-download your purchases. 7digital and eMusic both offer redownloading of purchased songs.

The Amazon name will inspire confidence in consumers who were perhaps unsure where to download music from legally. And as more shoppers wise up to the fact that most songs bought from iTunes -- still the most popular destination for legal music downloads in the world -- can only play on Apple products, DRM-free stores such as Amazon become ever-larger threats to the Cupertino company.