Today Amazon formally made available their new service dubbed AutoRip. The premise behind the service ties together the purchase of physical music CD’s from their online store and then also providing the customer a digital copy of that CD’s music in the Amazon Cloud Player at no additional charge.

Be warned though there are some titles and individual songs that are not part of this service due limitations in the agreements with the music companies.

Now AutoRip not only applies to all of your future music CD purchases at Amazon but they will also go back to 1998 and any CD purchases you have made since then and load up the eligible tracks into your Amazon Cloud Player at no cost. Just log into your Amazon Cloud Player and the transfer will happen right then. For me that meant 282 new tracks were added to my Cloud Player thanks to the 22 CD’s I have purchased from Amazon.

Some interesting details about the service:

  • Pre-release purchases means you get the digital version on the actual release day and not early.
  • If any items in an order are marked as gifts then they are not eligible for AutoRip even if they are AutoRip albums.
  • All Amazon AutoRip MP3’s are stored for free in your Cloud Player just like when you purchased the MP3 only albums.
  • Only available to accounts that have a US based billing address.
  • Albums purchased that contain audiovisuals and non-music content will not have that content added to the Cloud Player.

The MP3’s for theses AutoRip albums can be downloaded to your computer for storage and use on your MP3 players, etc. However, if you might be thinking that you could purchase the physical CD, get the MP3’s downloaded to your computer and then return the physical CD to Amazon for a refund – well they thought of that too:

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT RETURNS AND CANCELLATIONS: If you cancel your order or return this album, our normal order cancellation and product return policies will apply regarding the physical version of this album. However, if you download any of the tracks on the MP3 version of the album from your Cloud Player library (including if you have enabled auto-download to a device and any of the tracks on the MP3 version of the album auto-download), you will be considered to have purchased the MP3 version of the album from the Amazon MP3 Store and we will charge your credit card (or other payment method) for the then-current price of the MP3 version of the album (which will be non-refundable and may be a higher price than the physical version of the album). If you cancel your order or return the album and you do not download any of the tracks on the MP3 version of the album from your Cloud Player library, we will remove it from your Cloud Player library and you will not be charged for it.

Now could you not order the physical CD and still rip the tracks yourself? Sure but this is about delivering a convenient service as much as anything else.

I think this is a positive move for not only Amazon but the music industry as well. We all know that physical CD sales have been declining over the last several years due to digital downloads. This new service encourages physical CD purchases now and the customer still gets the digital downloads for their own use locally or on portable devices.

Seems like a Win-Win to me. What do you think?