Amazon launches AutoRip, offering users free digital versions of physical music they’ve bought

For years, people have wished that there would be a way for all of the music that they’d purchased on CD, vinyl, or even cassette tape to be magically available as as digital files without any effort or additional cost required. Now, such a reality has come to pass – but, of course, there’s a catch: In order to get a free MP3 of music that you already own a physical copy of, you have to have bought it through Amazon.

This is because Amazon has announced a new service called Amazon AutoRip, that will automatically make MP3 versions of CDs purchased through the company available to customers at no additional cost. Additionally, albums purchased through Amazon’s Music Store since 1998 will be retroactively AutoRipped and made available to customers via their Cloud Player library, with “more than 50,000 albums, including titles from every major record label” already available, and more being added on a regular basis.

Talking about the new feature, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos asked “What would you say if you bought music CDs from a company 15 years ago, and then 15 years later that company licensed the rights from the record companies to give you the MP3 versions of those CDs… and then to top it off, did that for you automatically and for free? Well, starting today, it’s available to all of our customers – past, present, and future – at no cost. We love these opportunities to do something unexpected for our customers.”

According to the company’s announcement, AutoRip will include not only the free digital copies of physical music purchased through Amazon over the last 15 years, but it will also be stored in the customers’ cloud library, but won’t be counted against their Cloud Player storage limits. The library of titles is still expanding, but some albums already available  include such well-known titles as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, as well as more recent albums such as Adele’s omnipresent 21 and Green Day’s hat-trick of Uno!, Dos! and Tre!.

For the cynical out there wondering just what Amazon gets out of this beyond the knowledge of giving something back to its customers, there’s one telling line of the company’s press release announcing the new service: “In many cases, customers can buy an AutoRip CD, including the free digital copy, for less than they would pay for only the digital album at iTunes.” In other words, take that, Apple! You just sell things digitally and for more money than Amazon!

Regardless of the motives, if you were still interested in buying new music in CD format, this is a particularly good deal and may be the kind of thing that lures newcomers to Amazon’s Cloud Player for the first time. Let’s call it a win-win all ’round, then.

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