For anyone who was bummed about the hoops they were going to have to jump through to get DRM-free songs from Sony-BMG artists, by the end of the month you will be able to download those songs at Amazon’s MP3 store. A couple days after announcing a weird plan with physical retailers to distribute DRM-free music that will require people to buy a plastic stored value card first and then download it afterwards , Amazon looks to be the first online music distributor to strike a deal with Sony-BMG. It will also be the first online music store to offer DRM-free songs from all four major labels, having previously struck deals with Warner, EMI, and Universal Music.
Sony has uploaded around 200,000 tracks to Amazon, which constitutes their entire “active” catalog (the stuff that actually sells). Our understanding is that their entire catalog will be uploaded over time.
We expect Steve Jobs to announce the addition of Sony-BMG music without DRM to iTunes at MacWorld next week. But for now, Amazon has them all to themselves. Amazon now has 3.25 million DRM-free tracks in their library, compared to just 2 million at iTunes. ITunes has a far larger DRM catalog, but, really, do those tracks even count any more?