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Amazon ‘AutoRip’ will give free digital files of purchased CD tracks

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos introduces the Kindle Fire on September 28, 2011 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/GETTY IMAGES)

Is finally ripping your CD collection to your computer on your list of New Year’s resolutions? Some of your work may already be done for you.

Amazon announced Thursday that it will give free digital versions of CD tracks to those who’ve purchased physical discs from the online retailer.

Called “AutoRip,” the service automatically adds MP3 versions of songs — 256 Kbps, for you music nerds — onto the company’s Cloud Player. According to a release from Amazon, the service will work not only with new CD purchases, but any CD purchase made on Amazon since 1998.

(Just for fun and context: A look at Billboard’s chart of radio songs shows Chumbawamba’s single ‘Tubthumping” was the number-one song this week in 1998.)

Amazon users can listen to their Cloud Player music anywhere they have an Internet connection, including on their computers and most smartphones and other mobile devices. Users who sign into Amazon Cloud Player with their Amazon account will see digital copies of eligible songs already loaded into their libraries.

Or, as one Amazon explanatory video put it: “Congratulations, your CDs just graduated to the 21st century.”

There is one major caveat: The feature doesn’t apply to every album, only those designated as “AutoRip” tracks. Amazon is rolling out an initial batch of 50,000 albums from several major record labels that will work with AutoRip, but it’s not a comprehensive feature.

Amazon still trails Apple’s market-leading iTunes service and has been adding features to try to narrow that gap. In July, the company introduced a feature that lets users scan their iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries to import digital copies of those songs into Amazon’s Cloud Player.

It also faces competition from companies such as Spotify or Pandora, which sell access to music rather than relying on the libraries that users already own.

Giving users digital copies of their historical purchases allows Amazon to distinguish itself in the ever-crowding world of online music and to leverage information that it already has on its consumers.

Related stories:

Amazon: The dark horse of 2012

Amazon, Macy’s, Sears settle FTC suits over mislabeling

Judge dismisses part of Apple ‘App Store’ claim against Amazon

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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