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Amazon.com to launch digital music store

May 17, 2007

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After previous rumours, Amazon.com has finally issued an offcial announcement of its intentions to launch a digital music store later this year featuring only songs without copyright-protection restrictions.

Executives at the Seattle-based company said Wednesday they decided to steer clear of digital-rights management technology, because consumers want to be able to listen to their downloads on any device they choose.

Bill Carr, Amazon.com’s vice president of digital media, said the company believes its DRM-free strategy “is helping to pave the way for a much better, much more customer-centric experience in digital music.”

Carr said Amazon.com has always focused on giving customers good bargains and hinted that music will be offered at various prices, however, he did not say how much it will charge for music download. “We have a track record of being very competitive on price and offering very low prices to customers,” Carr told The Associated Press. “We also have a track record of offering a wide range of price points on our products, too. There’s not one or two or three price points on our CD store today — there are many, many different price points.”

Amazon.com said its store will feature millions of songs from 12,000 labels, but announced only one of its partners: Britain’s EMI Music Group. Amazon.com said it would announce more labels when the service goes live, but did not specify a launch date.

Asked how Amazon.com plans to compete with Apple’s market-leading iTunes store, Carr said the Web merchant has a huge customer base, with 66 million active accounts, and touted the success of its CD store, which in the United States alone offers some 1 million titles.

Barney Wragg, head of EMI’s global digital division, said the company believes Amazon.com’s entry in the digital music business will make an intensely competitive market even more competitive.

“Amazon has proven it’s a really competitive, successful retailer in the CD business and we’re very excited about having people who have a proven track record come into the download business,” Wragg said.

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