iTunes/Amazon Showdown

October 2, 2007

I am finally getting around to testing out the Amazon MP3 store, as referenced by Techory (among lots of others) last week,  and figured it would be best to compare experiences with iTunes as well. For this I am planning on purchasing 2 albums, one from the iTunes store and one from the Amazon store. Pricing, availability and features will determine which I buy from which. The two albums are

Chicane – Far from the Maddening Crowds

I decided to start with iTunes and did a search for Chicane. I did not find the particular album I was looking for from the artist, so I tried a search on the album name, also to no avail. I then tried the Amazon store and also did not find the album. iTunes did have a number of Chicane albums, whereas Amazon only had one song, so in availability, iTunes does win, however no music purchased.

Immaculate Machine – Fables

I searched Amazon first, hoping to give it a win, however Amazon could not find the artist at all. I then tried iTunes and we had success finding the album for$9.90 for 10 tracks. Note, I didn’t buy it because I listened to some of the 30 second samples on iTunes and didn’t care for it. Sorry Immaculate Machine.

Since the first two attempts were wins for iTunes, I figured I should go for something for sure on Amazon.

Office – A Night at the Ritz

I searched for Office and was successful in finding the band, however Amazon didn’t have A Night at the Ritz in mp3, just a CD purchase for $12.99. To be fair, I then checked iTunes and found the album right away at $7.99 for 14 tracks. I did buy this cause it was a deal, and after entering in my password to iTunes, the album was bought.

Determined to try the Amazon store, I decided to browse their selection of Indie& Lo-Fi to find something to get. After some searching, I decided on

A Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters

for $8.91, the same as iTunes. I should note that previewing music was a piece of cake from the Amazon interface, just as easy as iTunes.

I tried the 1-Click download and had to install the Amazon Downloader, which I did. I was pleased to see that the instructions worked with Firefox and not just Safari. I downloaded the .amz file and it automatically opened in the Amazon Downloader and started downloading.

As each file completed, it was automatically added into iTunes for me. One disappointing part is that it also didn’t get added to the Purchased playlist. After added, I checked the ID3 tag info and it was all there, at least as much as iTunes includes. It also has good quality artwork, important in this Cover Flow world.


I have to say that with my small sampling of albums, I was rather disappointed by Amazon. Their interface is not bad, and the lack of DRM is nice, however for someone like me who has drank the juice from Apple, it just isn’t as nice as the iTunes Music Store experience. I was actually really surprised at this because I had really high hopes for the Amazon store, but when it doesn’t have as much music as iTunes and it doesn’t integrate quite as nice as iTunes, it will be tough for them to knock down Apple.