Amazon Announces AutoRip At Consumer Electronics Show
January 10, 2013

CES 2013: Amazon Thinks It’s 2003, Announces AutoRip

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Amazon today announced a brand new service that would have been incredibly helpful over a decade ago. Though there are some people remaining who enjoy buying physical plastic CDs, they are becoming fewer in number with each passing year. Those few remaining holdouts may truly appreciate Amazon´s AutoRip, a new service that provides these customers with a digital copy of the music they just purchased on CD.

Various bands and record labels have tried this approach before, rewarding those who legitimately purchase their music with the convenience of a digital copy. Those who love vinyl are also accustomed to such promotions. It should be noted, however, that it makes more sense to give away a free digital copy to those customers, as vinyl is much less portable than CDs.

There are some positive points to mention about Amazon´s AutoRip.

For instance, any AutoRip eligible CD purchased from Amazon since 1998 should automatically land in the user´s Cloud Player. This could end up surprising those Amazon customers who have long since lost a particular album before they had a chance to rip it into their computer.

Though it´s not much of a hassle to slip a CD into a computer and use iTunes or some other program to rip the music from the disc, AutoRip spares the user the trouble. Amazon´s promotional videos have been very quick to mention the fact that users can listen to the digital copies even before the disk arrives via 2-day mail.

Though handy, the service has its share of catches and caveats. First, only AutoRip eligible albums can be downloaded into the cloud player. At launch, Amazon is offering 50,000 albums for the AutoRip service and says there are more titles on the way. For those who stick to the more mainstream titles, this will work in your favor. Otherwise, your old CDs may never end up for free in the cloud. Second, these songs end up in your Cloud Player, meaning you´ll want to download them if you want to listen to them anywhere else. While a minor inconvenience (no more so than ripping an album to a computer), this is one more step between you and your music.

Amazon has tried before to bring attention to their Cloud Player service, opening it up by selling Lady Gaga´s new album for only $1. While CloudPlayer is no doubt popular (particularly among Kindle Fire owners) this still sounds like self-promotion, and there´s nothing wrong with that.

AutoRip must be popular among Amazon customers, as the site is now experiencing delays. Users can expect to receive an email whenever their music (should they have any) land in their CloudPlayer.

According to TechCrunch, Amazon has said they´ve made deals with 3 major publishers, EMI, Sony and Warner, in order to make this service possible. They´ve also made deals with smaller publishers and say they expect to continue making deals into the future to bring more music into the cloud.

In some ways, this feels almost like iTunes done backwards, with users benefitting from the instantaneous download while waiting for the physical disc to arrive via snail mail. Though the service is only available to certain titles in their library, it´s free and a nice little perk for those who aren´t yet ready to leave the comfort of the Grunge-n-Flannel days.