Harrison makes it a horse-race

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As you may have heard, the fourth-wonderwall of the solo-Beatles’ quadrangle is now in place at the iTunes Store thanks to the inclusion of George Harrison’s catalog. As you may have also heard, Amazon has opened the doors on its AmazonMP3 music download service, a service that offers high-quality DRM-free recordings at prices generally lower than those at the iTunes Store.

Those of us impressed by Amazon’s bargain prices have changed the way we buy music. “Check Amazon First!” is our motto. However, after a recent exploration of the two emporia I’m prepared to modify that motto to read “Check Amazon First, But Double-Check iTunes Just In Case!”

The connection between The Quiet Beatle and the two music stores is this: Harrison’s finest work (and, okay, perhaps the strongest solo-Beatles album ever released—and yes, I’ve listened to Imagine and Band On The Run, thank you very much), All Things Must Pass is available from both Amazon and the iTunes Store. If you’re after DRM-free versions of the album’s individual tracks, Amazon wins hands-down. Except for the album’s longest jam tracks (originally found on sides 5 and 6 of the LP release), Amazon offers nearly all its DRM-free individual tracks for $.99 versus iTunes’ DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks for $1.29 each. Amazon charges a premium price of $1.94 for these longer tracks (and no, in my humble opinion, they're not worth it), but at least it allows you to buy them individually. On iTunes they’re Album Only.

However, if you purchase the entire album, iTunes offers the better deal. Amazon wants $13.55 for the album versus the more-than-reasonable $9.99 iTunes Plus price (plus you get a digital booklet that you don’t get from Amazon).

If you follow this stuff you know that, given the choice between purchasing the protected- and iTunes Plus versions of an album, iTunes Plus is the better way to go as the prices are the same but you get better encoding quality and no DRM. But what I’ve just learned is that every so often, iTunes’ album prices may be an even bigger bargain than I imagined.

This story, "Harrison makes it a horse-race" was originally published by PCWorld.

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