Amazon’s “AutoRip” Service Goes Live, Giving Customers Free MP3s For CDs Purchased On Amazon As Far Back As 1998 (Hands-On)

Comment

Image Credits:

Amazon is today introducing a new service called Amazon AutoRip, which automatically gives customers free MP3 versions of any CDs they’ve purchased from Amazon since the launch of its Music Store back in 1998. Customers will also have access to a growing number of new releases. The digital music is being placed in users’ Amazon Cloud Player accounts, the company’s answer to Google Music, iTunes Match, Rdio, and other services that store users’ own music collections in the cloud.

News of the service’s debut was leaked last night by CNET, which said it would be arriving “soon.”

At launch, the AutoRip service is offered for over 50,000 albums on Amazon.com, with more on the way, including both back catalog and most new releases. The option has been made possible by deals made with record labels and music publishers, Amazon says. According to Steve Boom, Amazon’s VP of Worldwide Digital Music, the company now has deals in place with the three major labels (EMI, now a part of Universal; Sony; and Warner) as well as hundreds of independent labels. On the publisher side, Amazon has participation from all the major music publishers and “hundreds, if not thousands,” of smaller publishers, says Boom.

Amazon’s customers won’t have to take any action to switch on AutoRip. In fact, even if users have never signed up or downloaded the Cloud Player software, the option will be enabled if they’ve ever purchased a CD on Amazon. In that case, those customers will receive an email shortly after the service’s launch today informing them that a digital copy of that purchase (or purchases) is now available in the cloud for free.

CloudPlayer_AutoRip_backfill

Cloud Player, which currently works on Amazon Kindle Fire devices, Android phones and tablets, the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, Roku, Sonos, and Samsung smart TVs and DVD players, also arrived on Ford’s AppLink platform earlier this week. This initial automobile integration offers access to the service from over 1 million Ford vehicles, as well as the forthcoming new models. It’s the first of many auto partnerships in store for Cloud Player, Boom tells us.

In terms of reach, the new CD-to-MP3 AutoRip service will target a large number of Amazon’s customers who have bought CDs from the site over the years. Boom reminds us that CDs were the second product type Amazon ever sold following books. “Since [1998], we’ve sold hundreds of millions of CDs to tens of millions of customers – a lot, a lot of music,” he says. Boom adds that Amazon specifically focused on enabling the service for those CDs that are in high demand among its customer base. In other words, 50,000 CDs may represent a small percentage of Amazon’s extensive music catalog, but it’s a “substantial percentage” of Amazon’s sales. And, as new albums continue to be released, Amazon’s AutoRip collection will grow.

CloudPlayer_AutoRip_delivery

Last July, Amazon separated its Cloud Player service from its Cloud Drive storage product, which are best understood as Amazon’s alternatives to Google Music and Google Drive, respectively. The free tier of Cloud Player supports up to 250 imported songs, and those purchased at Amazon don’t count toward storage totals. For $24.99 per year, users can upgrade to Cloud Player Premium to import up to 250,00 songs. Premium users’ collections are also upgraded to 256 Kbps audio quality.

This music-matching option in Cloud Player is similar to Google’s, Apple’s and others’ “scan and match” functionality, in that it will scan a user’s music collection, then mirror it in the cloud. At Apple, this is known as iTunes Match, also $24.99 per year and 256 Kbps audio quality. Google’s is free and offers “up to” 320 Kbps quality.

Hands On

In testing the AutoRip functionality as a Cloud Drive user, the process of gaining access to the digital songs was simple. When purchasing a track, there’s a message about a “free MP3” right below the “add to cart” button, and above the “buy now with 1-Click” button, when signed in.

After the purchase, you’re then redirected to a page which alerts you to the shipping confirmation, offers recommendations of other tracks to buy, and shows a big green button off to the right which reads “Go to Cloud Player.”

autorip purchase

With a click, you’re then redirected again to Amazon Cloud Player, where there’s now a big banner alerting you to your recent purchase displays. (New users will have to first sign in with their Amazon account, and accept the Terms of Use.)

From this pop-up window, you can immediately play the track by clicking the yellow button, or head into Cloud Player to download the file to your hard drive.

purchase added

If this is your first time using AutoRip, you’ll also see a notification about how many songs Amazon has added on your behalf. Although I could have sworn I had never purchased CD music from Amazon, I was surprised to find 43 songs had been added for me. It was music I had purchased as a gift – so don’t be surprised to find a few oddballs in this list.

One more click on this second notification window takes you directly to those AutoRip tracks. They are found under the “Purchased” section of your Amazon Cloud Drive folder structure, and are highlighted separately from other music purchases by the green and blue badge next to the purchase date on the right of the screen.

Amazon Cloud Player

From here, Cloud Player works as usual. You can add the auto-rip tracks to playlists, download them, or delete them to free up space.

Amazon Ramping Up Cloud Music Efforts

While much of the current tech coverage is focused on the latest in streaming music, including both radio services like Pandora, as well as on-demand options like Spotify, Boom says people still like to buy physical music. “It’s almost 50 percent of the music market in the U.S.,” he says. “Only in 2011 did digital overtake physical in the United States, and in many countries, physical still represents 70 to 80 percent of music being sold.” At Amazon, both the physical and digital music businesses continue to grow, he adds, but declined to provide specific numbers.

Although Amazon AutoRip is U.S.-only, the plan is to offer the service to the other countries where Amazon operates a music store in 2013, including the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan. As for competing with the radio or on-demand cloud services in the future? No comment there. “Both of those business models are evolving rapidly, but I don’t have anything to talk about,” Boom says. “Our focus is really on your music, as opposed to all the world’s music that might be out there. That’s not our strategic focus today.”

That being said, Boom notes that Amazon has invested heavily in digital music, that its digital music team has grown over the past couple of years, and notes “you’ll see a lot of cool stuff” from Cloud Player this year.

Cloud Player is a part of Amazon’s growing lineup of consumer-facing cloud services that compete with those from Apple, Google and other startups, such as Dropbox for example. The company now has its own online mobile application store, online cloud storage called Cloud Drive, and it recently introduced a mobile application called Cloud Photos for uploading and sharing photos stored in Amazon Cloud Drive.

More TechCrunch

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more