Buying Music: iTunes Store vs Amazon MP3 Downloads

Stefan Neagu 10-08-2009

image In these tough times for the economy, file sharers and students alike, it’s time to find out exactly how much the convenience of buying music from iTunes costs.


To the untrained eye, buying Amazon MP3 music downloads might not immediately seem like a bargain – and let’s face it, it’s not as easy as clicking the buy button in iTunes. As with all things Apple, the whole experience of buying music on iTunes is seamless, simple and the catalog is huge, encompassing songs from the most obscure indie bands to mainstream pop.


Apple provides a slightly higher quality music format (DRM-free 256kb/s AAC), they also have variable song pricing, most individual songs costing you $1.29. Less popular songs are priced at $0.99 and $.79 (there are very few), but you can usually get a better deal by purchasing the whole album, with a typical 12 track record running you at $9.99.

There’s some good news though. Various promotions are always available if you visit the music store home, check the Facebook fan page and sign up for the Apple education newsletter. Just the other week, a 30 track sampler full of indie tracks was available for free, in addition to the free songs available every week on Tuesday.

You will also notice that certain bands/singers and genres will go on sale on special occasions, holidays or celebrations. You also have a good chance of getting the album at a lower price if you pre-order or buy it after the dust settles (after 3-4 months of the original release).



Depending on your perspective, as a PC or Mac user, an iPod or another device owner, the AAC format in which the music is available, might or might not suit your needs. The 256Kb/s AAC format is considered to be of higher quality to its MP3 counterpart, but any chance of noticing the difference will require a pretty expensive audio setup. (For more details on difference between audio formats see Audio File Formats Explained in Simple Terms The 10 Most Common Audio Formats: Which One Should You Use? You know about MP3, but what about AAC, FLAC, OGG, or WMA? Why do so many audio file formats exist and is there a best audio format? Read More )

Listening in noisy environments, on low quality ear buds (like the ones that come with your iPod) will mask any difference between the formats. You should also consider that not all devices can play the AAC format, especially older MP3 players. For most people, it doesn’t make sense to buy music from the iTunes Store without owning an iPod or iPhone – they probably have another application that syncs their device, and generally, buying Amazon MP3 downloads is cheaper.



Another nail in iTunes’s coffin is the fact that the Amazon downloader application will automatically import the Amazon MP3 songs you buy into iTunes if you choose to. Which means that you can have the songs on your iPod with just a little bit of hassle, as there’s no need to import manually.  Plus since the Amazon MP3 songs come in DRM-free MP3 format, they can be immediately synced to your iPod, without requiring transcoding. If you’re using another MP3 player, like the Sandisk ones, your device most likely syncs with Windows Media Player, which is also compatible with the Amazon Downloader automatic import.

Amazon scores more points for having a lot larger collection of promotional priced albums and songs, and also offers a selection of free ones every day. At the end of the day, there’s no discernible reason that would make a price conscious person opt for buying music on iTunes.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments. You should also check out Download Free Music, Videos & Movies on iTunes Download Free Music, Videos & Movies On iTunes Read More , 7 Sites To Get Free Music Legally 7 Sites Where You Can Download Free Music (Legally!) If you're the type of person who loves tending to a vast music collection, there are still ways to get free music. Here are seven websites to get you started... Read More , 6 Ways To Sync Music To Your iPhone Without iTunes 5 Ways to Sync Music to Your iPhone Without iTunes Don't wrestle with iTunes to get music onto your iPhone, use one of these alternative methods and workarounds instead. Read More and 3 Ultra Cheap Alternatives To iTunes Store 3 Ultra Cheap Alternatives To iTunes Store Read More .

Related topics: iTunes, iTunes Store, MP3.

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  1. Danielle
    September 21, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    So, if I buy music off of I can put it into iTunes and onto my iPod? Has anyone actually done this and knows it works? I really don't want to spend the money and then not be able to listen to it when I don't have my computer...

    • Dominic
      September 24, 2009 at 10:25 am

      Yes you can & I've done it and know it works.

      Worst comes to worst if you don't choose to automatically import into iTunes (mentionned in the article), you can always use the manual way of importing songs in iTunes:
      - If using PC : (In the menu) File > Add File to Library... or File > Add Folder to Library...
      - If using Mac: (In the top menu) File > Add to Library...

      • Danielle
        September 24, 2009 at 5:46 pm

        Thank youuuu! (:

  2. melvyn
    August 11, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Here's the shorter version for non-US citizens:

    Amazon: We don't want your strange foreign money.
    iTunes: Come on in.

  3. MelangeX3
    August 11, 2009 at 7:49 am

    I needed to replace some music from older cd's that had gotten lost. I tried the iTunes route and was not impressed. It seemed like the software wanted to take over everything and was sort of confusing. I stumbled across the Amazon music downloader by accident. I have never used a plugin to buy something before and was a little nervous. I figured a big name like Amazon might be worth a try. I bought what I needed in 320kbs mp3 format for .99 each. Oh the simplicity! It was easy and intuitive and it even put the music right into WMP library (I understand it does this for iTunes library as well). As a multi-PC user, I have never had too much oppurtunity to play with the Apple products. For my needs which include syncing 3 Sansa mp3 players and a Windows Mobile Smartphone, I have to say Amazon Music Downloader.

  4. Chuck
    August 10, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I'm definitely moving toward Amazon. I am no Apple hater...but the DRM alone is a pain to deal with. Not only that, there are too many non-intuitive hassles on iTunes. And I still don't have the $1.29 option displaying for me.

    Also, I went to buy the new album from a couple favorite artists (Phil Keaggy and Randy Stonehill). iTunes has it for $9.99, Amazon has it for $, no DRM and a higher bit-rate. Apple just completely loses on that score.

    I still use iTunes for coordinating everything, because I haven't found a good replacement for it, and I like the way it handles podcast subscriptions...effortless! But my money is going Amazon's way now. Oh...and if you're an audiobook lover like me...ALWAYS buy directly from Audible, instead of iTunes. It's frequently cheaper (iTunes marks things up), and you have multiple audio quality formats available, and they have a sync thing set up just like Amazon does for importing into iTunes.

  5. doorknob60
    August 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    AmazonMP# FTW. It's great for Linux users. Before AmazonMP3, I had to reboot in to Windows just to buy music with iTUnes, but now I can do it from Linux, and I can getter a better format (I don't really like M4A very much compared to MP3 and OGG).