AutoRip is an initiative where upon the purchase a physical unit from Amazon.com, a digital copy is automatically placed in your Amazon cloud account. This allows you to stream or download your purchase via Amazon Cloud Player.
As an added bonus all purchases made back to 1998, when Amazon first opened its music store, will automatically be placed in users’ cloud accounts.
For us vinyl fans, portability is an obvious compromise. However it is becoming more common for new release vinyl to come with a free digital download card or a CD. However, this is seldom the case for re-issued wax (and of course second hand), meaning vinyl lovers either have to purchase a separate digital copy or convert manually to MP3.
Having a quick browse through Amazon’s AutoRip selection of funk vinyl I found the variety was not great. There was the sort of everyday titles which are easily found at your local record store such as contemporary artists like Sharon Jones and The Bamboos, as well as re-issued offerings from like The Meters, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder.
Amazon says that the digital copies will be a 256kbs sample rate which is the equivalent to purchasing from iTunes. However, this is still much lower than the 320kbs sample rate that some choose when manually converting wax to MP3.
It does however seem that this is not a completely fluid introduction. Wired is reporting that vinyl only tracks will not be available unless the record label comes through with a new digital copy. Tone Deaf made the point that this could affect upcoming, vinyl only, Record Store Day releases.
Furthermore, the digital tracks are only able to be played exclusively through Amazon’s Cloud Player. Whilst the app is available on most mobile platforms, this could prove to be an inconvenience for those who are forced to sort the rest of their music collection with iTunes.
Overall it seems that this is a logical extension to Amazon’s Autorip program. However, the extra effort on Amazon’s behalf is minimal as they are simply giving the same digital files you would be getting if you bought the CD. This is contrary to some download cards where the digital version is the vinyl master copy. Although the difference between the two is minimal, some customers may be disappointed or deterred with this.