MacRumors reports today that Amazon has introduced a service that provides free MP3 versions of CDs you purchase on their online store. The digital versions come through Amazon Cloud Player, and are encoded as 256 Kbps MP3 files, playable on most modern devices. Interestingly, the service will also provide — as of today — free MP3 copies of physical CDs you purchased on Amazon previously. Of course, those CDs must be actually participating in the AutoRip program.
The most obvious advantage of this service is to instantly provide digital MP3 copies of songs to customers who prefer to also own the physical media. At Amazon’s prices, this service will almost certainly bring even tighter competition to iTunes, because if I can get a CD and a free MP3 download through Amazon for the same price of the lone download on iTunes, I almost certainly will. With a CD, I can conveniently play it in my car, or to give it to a friend to borrow, for example.
CD sales are definitely in decline, and that may be a contributing factor to this program. Also, Amazon undoubtedly wants to push use of its cloud service considering ample competition from Google Drive and iCloud. Providing free MP3s to those that would normally only buy CDs provides an avenue for those customers to get their music immediately, but also promotes Amazon Cloud Player as the medium through which they are distributed.