Amazon.com has reached licensing deals with the four major U.S. record companies for a music service that lets users store songs remotely and play them online, competing with Apple Inc.’s iTunes.
Amazon also has updated its cloud music player to mimic Apple’s iTunes Match, but it is offering 10 times more storage space for the same price.
Songs purchased on Amazon.com have always been stored for free on its servers for playback on mobile devices. Now the online retailer will scan a person’s computer and automatically match songs found there on the person’s storage space in the cloud.
Like iTunes Match, Amazon will upgrade songs of lesser quality found on computers or existing cloud lockers to files encoded at 256 kilobits per second.
The price is the same as iTunes Match at $25 a year.
But Amazon.com offers free storage for 250 songs bought elsewhere, and will store 250,000 songs for paying customers. ITunes Match tops out at 25,000 songs.
Songs from Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, Sony Corp.’s music business, EMI Group Ltd. and billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Warner Music Group are also now available through Amazon.
Amazon, whose Kindle Fire tablet computer sells for $199 – half the price of Apple’s least expensive iPad – is seeking to make money by offering higher-margin digital content on the device, such as books, music and movies.
Amazon said its cloud music users will be able to access songs on a Kindle Fire, devices running Google Inc.’s Android operating system, and Apple’s iPhones. The songs, also accessible through an Internet browser, will soon be available via Roku Inc.’s streaming service or Sonos Inc.’s home entertainment systems, Amazon said.
Consumers can scan all the songs on their hard drive – those from iTunes, Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Media Player and compact discs – and play them in Amazon’s Cloud Player.
(The AP and Bloomberg contributed to this report.)