Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find. Not usually the most successful of mantras, but sometimes it does work. Only a week after crying out in our forums for a download service offering DRM free, 320kbps MP3s, suddenly such a service is on offer. The store, called Amp3Digital (it sort of spells “amped digital”; clever eh?), claims to offer over 50 per cent of its collection in my requisite 320kbps. It offers a large back catalogue of music in addition to all the latest chart releases, not to mention a decent selection of videos on top of that.
A quick scope of the site certainly game me that impression, with a large collection of albums, singles and videos being available to download for £0.79 per single, £8.77 for an album and £1.77 per video.
If your willing to sacrifice your digital rights then you'll be able to download your music in 192kbps WMA and videos in either WMV, iPod Video or PSP Video format. Even on these DRM infected tracks the license allows copy of the tracks to three different computers, burning to CD and copying to an audio player. All in all, if you have to have your digital rights managed, this is a reasonably liberal way of having it done.
On the DRM-free front, a quick check with Amp3Digital explained that the tracks in question are those artists on the EMI label; which includes Sir Paul McCartney, The Chemical Brothers and REM among many others, which is exactly the same collection as Apple is offering. Pricing is also the same as iTunes, at £0.99 per DRM free track. Unlike iTunes, however, there’s no restriction to just one make of MP3 player, although you will have to use Windows Media Player 11 to play DRM infected tracks.
The only minor problem is that there is currently no way to tell which tracks are available DRM free if you don’t know who is on the EMI label, but in the next few days a dedicated section will go online to let you browse just DRM-less music.
Update: The 320kbps MP3 section is in fact online now, here so check it out; also for a limited time you can download a free trial track to test the service - can't say fairer than that.