Amazon Vs. eMusic vs. iTunes

Just downloaded my first Amazon MP3 Album, and Apple better do something quick, because it was pretty easy.

The album in question? Dolores O’Riordan’s solo album “Are You Listening?” You may know her from the Cranberries.

An Amazon MP3 Download in Progress


  • iTunes – $9.99
  • eMusic – Not available
  • Amazon – $6.99

Winner – Amazon

Ease of Download

  • iTunes – Right in the software
  • eMusic – Separate downloader
  • Amazon – Separate downloader, but prettier than eMusic’s, and will automatically move MP3s to iTunes

Winner – iTunes

Sound Quality

  • iTunes – 128kbps AAC, 256kbps if iTunes Plus
  • eMusic – Typically 192kpbs VBR MP3
  • Amazon – Typically 256kpbs VBR MP3

Winner – Amazon, but would’ve been extremely close if the iTunes Plus version existed


  • iTunes – Included with download. Usually richly detailed files.
  • eMusic – No Artwork, but my iTunes is setup to grab art from the iTunes Store
  • Amazon – Included with download, but I usually grab artwork from iTunes anyway so it’s stored in the Coverflow database and not in the metadata

Winner – 3-Way Tie


<li>iTunes - Yes and no</li>
<li>eMusic - No</li>
<li>Amazon - No</li>

Winner – Tie between Amazon and eMusic. iTunes Plus files contain your email address, which is passive agressive DRM, although I hear that Amazon’s MP3s are watermarked.


  • iTunes – Usually pretty accurate
  • eMusic – NEVER INCLUDES the last track number and it’s irritating. Sometimes lacks genre and year.
  • Amazon – As good as iTunes, but also includes an Amazon Song ID in the Comments field, which also means that it’s easy to make a smart playlist of songs from Amazon. But I wonder if that Song ID also identifies the purchaser.

Winner – Amazon

Final Thoughts

I didn’t think highly of the Amazon MP3 store when I first heard rumors. I didn’t want MP3s when AACs were available on iTunes. But when albums cost $6.99 I’m willing to compromise.

Still, that isn’t always the case. So what if I like The Cranberries?

All the major label albums I’ve been waiting for iTunes Plus releases of are now potential purchases on Amazon’s store. Apple better hurry up.