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Amazon Extends AutoRip Service to Vinyl
If you were psyched when Amazon started giving away free digital copies of purchased CDs, then get ready to get excited all over again.
The Web giant today announced it has extended its AutoRip service to vinyl. Those who have purchased vinyl records from Amazon dating back to 1998 will now find MP3 versions automatically added to their Cloud Player library for free.
“We’re thrilled to extend this experience to vinyl records,” Steve Boom, vice president of digital music for Amazon, said in a statement. “Many of our music customers are vinyl fans and it’s traditionally been very difficult to make digital versions of vinyl records — now customers can enjoy the albums they buy wherever they are, not just when they have access to a record player.”
Introduced in January, the AutoRip service was initially limited to CDs. Now, when you buy an eligible vinyl record on Amazon, a digital copy will be automatically added to your Cloud Player library where it will be available for immediate playback or download free of charge.
Thousands of records, including titles from every major record label, are available for AutoRip, Amazon said. Some of the most popular vinyl records available for AutoRip include: Babel by Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers by The Lumineers, Unorthodox Jukebox by Bruno Mars, All that Echoes by Josh Groban, Greatest Hits — Chapter 1 by Kelly Clarkson, and Alabama Shakes by Alabama Shakes.
“AutoRip has been wildly popular with customers since it launched earlier this year,” Boom said. “It’s a fun experience to suddenly find CDs you purchased just today — or 15 years ago — added automatically and free of charge to your digital library.”
We sat down with Boom (pictured right) last week to talk about AutoRip, the possibility of Amazon launching a streaming music service, and more.
PCMag: AutoRip is pretty awesome. Why did Amazon decide to provide this service?
Boom: It is something that’s uniquely Amazon. We are really the only retailer that sells both physical music and digital music. The idea behind AutoRip is to eliminate that distinction between physical and digital music. When you buy something digitally from Amazon, we gave you a copy in the cloud. You have access to it from any device, it’s a secure backup should your hard drive ever crash, should you lose your phone, or whatever. And it occurred to us — why should physical be any different? When I buy a physical CD from Amazon, why wouldn’t I have a digital backup in the cloud that I can access from everywhere easily?
PCMag: What was the process like for developing AutoRip?
We started talking to the various rights holders because it’s something that we needed to license — the ability to do this. It turns out they were all super supportive of it, and excited by it for a lot of reasons. One of the main reasons of which is that it’s probably the first time in a while that somebody’s come along and said we can make owning music better, more valuable, convenient, and basically better than stealing. No one had really added value back into owning music in quite some time, particularly not in terms of physical CDs.
PCMag: What type of feedback have you been given about AutoRip?
Customer response has been similar to how you described it — ‘this is awesome.’ We’ve had terrific customer feedback, especially when we filled up people’s libraries with stuff they had bought dating back to 1998.
We heard ‘I forgot about that.’ Or, ‘my ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend took my CDs when we broke up and I’ve never seen them again.’ Or, ‘someone stole them out of my car.’ Or, ‘oh my gosh, I can’t believe I actually used to like that kind of music.’ But primarily it was, ‘thank you Amazon, this is awesome. Way to look out for your customers.’
We like to say it’s not often that you buy something and then 10 years later the company you bought it from makes it better without you asking for it.
PCMag: Moving on from AutoRip, Amazon is reportedly in talks with record labels to launch a subscription music service similar to Spotify. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
There is nothing we can really say on the record. There are rumors about us and a lot of other players. Today we have a cloud music service based on ownership, and that’s service we provide.
PCMag: A lot of users are hoping you include this rumored subscription music service as part of Amazon Prime. Is this something the company is considering?
Today Prime is an amazing value as it stands. [It offers] unlimited two-day shipping, and the Prime Instant Video service as well as the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. But yes, we’ve had a lot of customers indicate that it would be cool to have a music benefit in Prime.
PCMag: Amazon recently partnered with Ford to bring Cloud Player to vehicles equipped with the car maker’s Sync AppLink in-car infotainment system. How did this integration come about?
At the end of the day the automobile is an important place where people consume a lot of music. Amazon’s strategy is to allow customers access to their music on any device, wherever they are. So the automobile is kind of a natural place for us to provide customers access to their music libraries. Ford has been out in front in terms of connecting the car, and so naturally when we looked at where we wanted to go to first, we started talking to Ford and it made a lot of sense. Ultimately, we’d like customers, regardless of the make of vehicle that they have, to have access to Cloud Player and their music library.
PCMag: Finally, what’s to come from Amazon in the digital music space going forward?
We definitely don’t plan to sit still. Last year we spent a lot of time expanding Cloud Player to mobile platforms, as well as home platforms like Roku, Sonos, and Samsung TVs. This year, you should expect us to continue to expand on mobile and home platforms. It’s kind of obvious which home platforms might be next – whatever’s connected to people’s home entertainment systems.
And then, the announcement with Ford was really an indicator of something we think is really strategically important for us this year and an area we’re investing, which is the connected car.
You’ll see some great things coming — some new features in our store, upgrades to Cloud Player, upgrades to all of our mobile apps. We will be expanding the AutoRip program internationally to all the countries that we operate in.
Interview edited for length.
By Angela Moscaritolo, PCMag