Amazon has launched a beta version of its much-anticipated DRM-free music download store.

The etailing giant claims it will have the world’s largest collection of DRM-free music downloads, with 2m songs available from over 180,000 artists.

However, it is not yet available in the UK.

Unlike Apple’s iTunes, Amazon’s customers will not be locked into any one digital player, and will also be able to burn their own CDs.

In the US, songs will be priced at between $0.89 and $0.99, with more than half available at the lower price, thus undercutting iTunes by $0.10. Albums will be priced from $5.99 to $9.99.

It has a good range of music, especially from Universal and EMI, though there is nothing on there from Sony as yet.

It will be interesting to see what Amazon will charge customers in the UK, who are currently paying about 60% more for downloading songs on iTunes then US customers, for no apparent reason.  

Apple’s iTunes store currently has around 80% of the music download market – it is unlikely that Amazon will be an iTunes killer but, with DRM-free downloads and cheaper pricing, it should prove to be a serious competitor for Apple.

Amazon MP3 is currently available in the US only, though the UK version will be rolled out later this year. 

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