Let ‘er Auto Rip

Amazon Cloud Player

I’m still working out the implications of an announcement that came across my virtual transom this morning, but Amazon announced today that they are implementing a service called AutoRip for certain audio CD purchases. The basic idea is, buy an audio CD (at Amazon obviously) and instantly get it “ripped” to your Amazon Cloud account so that it is available in your Amazon Cloud Player. These songs are then available to play from the web on the Cloud Player page, or on your iPhone or Android device with the appropriate apps.

What fascinates me about this service is the idea that we are, again, seeing this transition from old to new (or in this case old to not quite as old – CD 1983, MP3 1994) technologies. And the birth of new services. This is also intended to be competition for Apple’s iTunes Match service. However, with the Amazon service, it’s an interesting twist. Buy your music online and get a free archival copy (the CD) of your music sent to your home for free.

I’ve always favored the idea of purchasing a CD and then ripping it to iTunes (or Windows Media Player or whatever) so that you have that pristine audio from the CD as a backup. I do it less and less though. Audiophiles will still keep their audio CD players, and of course their turntables for their vinyl LP albums, but I’m wondering who will value the CD in the coming years. I could honestly see people never unwrapping the plastic from the disc. How much longer will there be CD players? Will it eventually make a resurgence like the turntable? Is there any extra cost to the consumer? Obviously there is the production cost of the CD of however many cents each disc is worth. The ultimate question I guess is what’s the point of a CD, at least for most people?

I never bring CDs into my car anymore. I don’t have a CD player hooked up to my home theater/sound system. I do have a DVD player, which will play CDs, but I never use it that way. I am VERY intrigued with the idea of albums released to include 5.1 sound (remember Quadrophonic sound? It’s old) to get the true spacial separation of the music, but this requires a more complex setup than most people are willing to incur. This is the equivalent of DVD versus Blu-ray debate. For most, the DVD is just fine.

The coolest part of this service being introduced is that all of the CD purchases that I made over the past several years has translated into more music being imported into MY Cloud Player account. Some of my musical taste is on display in the above screenshot.¬†However, not all of the CDs that Amazon sells have the AutoRip designation next to them. Will Amazon be doing this for every CD eventually? We’ll have to wait and see as there is no FAQ yet for this service. You can see the thoughts and questions that this announcement has generated in my mind. Obviously the answers are not even close to being clear. So many people may react to this with a simple “huh”. I’m sort of one of them.

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