Amazon Unleashes MP3-Based Music Store, Beta Version

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Amazon has now launched its MP3-based music download store, a long-awaited arrival.

As promised earlier, the store offers DRM-free selections from EMI Music, Universal Music Group, and a large number of independents.  Remaining majors Sony BMG and Warner Music Group are absent, and it remains unclear if and when those companies will shed digital protections.

The store contains two million tracks from roughly 20,000 labels, according to information disclosed early Tuesday morning.  Songs carry price points of between 89- and 99-cents, and approximately half the catalog lies at the lower end of that range.

As expected, Amazon is integrating MP3s into broader artist searches, and the company is not focusing on a dedicated online store or application.  Users can opt to search for MP3s only, though downloadable tracks are also integrated alongside albums, merchandise and DVD results.

Upon launch, Amazon vice president of Digital Music Bill Carr pointed to a solid service, but indicated that some refinements are ahead.  “This new digital music service has already been through an extensive private beta, and today we’re excited to offer it to our customers as a fully functional public beta,” Carr said.  “We look forward to receiving feedback from our customers and using their input to refine the service.”