December 5, 2023

Media Decoder Blog: Digital Notes: Amazon ‘Rips’ CDs Into the Cloud

Amazon is turning to an unlikely old friend to step up its competition in digital music: CD’s.

Digital Notes

Daily updates on the business of digital music.

Almost two years ago Amazon introduced its Cloud Player, which lets customers back up their digital music files and stream them on any device; Google and Apple soon followed with their versions.

On Thursday, Amazon introduced an enhancement to the service called AutoRip, which expands Cloud Player libraries to include everything its customers have bought on CD, stretching back all the way to 1998. That Baha Men album you bought from Amazon 13 years ago, in other words, can now be listened to instantly through a phone or tablet.

“What we’re doing with AutoRip is bringing the cloud to physical music, eliminating that distinction,” said Steve Boom, Amazon’s vice president for digital music.

Variations on this have existed before, but they have often met with resistance — if not litigation — from music companies., for example, let customers gain access to their music online after a CD was inserted into a computer to verify ownership, but it was sued for copyright infringement and eventually shut down; AnywhereCD, by the same entrepreneur, Michael Robertson, was introduced in 2005, but again ran into problems with labels.

Amazon has gotten around these problems by striking licensing deals with music companies.

Catching Up at (Or Around) the Consumer Electronics Show: The annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is well known as an opportunity for manufacturers to show off their latest “unuseless” gadgets, like a tablet that doubles as a coffee-table surface and a fork that warns you if you’re eating too fast.

For digital music services — whether they are participating in the conference or not — the show is also an opportunity to update statistics and introduce new features. Here are a few notable announcements this week.

  • Muve Music, a subscription service connected to Cricket Wireless phones, said it finished 2012 with 1.1 million subscribers. Muve is often left out of discussions of hot tech products, perhaps because it focuses on low-income customers and has a relatively simple interface for downloading songs. But in two years it has attracted at least as many subscribers as Spotify and Rhapsody, whose last reported numbers in the United States were both 1 million.
  • Internet radio services are pushing hard for a place in new cars, often in the dashboard. Pandora said it was available in 85 models of cars, including its latest addition, Chrysler. In all, Pandora is integrated into more than 1,000 devices, including cars, televisions and various other kinds of consumer electronics.
  • Sirius XM Radio said that it ended 2012 with 23.9 million subscribers, up two million for the year, and that it expected to add another 1.4 million in 2013. Sirius’s biggest shareholder, Liberty Media, also said it had received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to take over the company.
  • Pitchfork, the online bible of alternative music, introduced a service to stream new albums in advance; its name, appropriately enough, is Pitchfork Advance. It should compete with NPR Music, whose advance album streams have proved an effective draw for NPR and provided valuable promotion for artists and record companies.

Ben Sisario writes about the music industry. Follow @sisario on Twitter.

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