Amazon today unveiled
Amazon MP3 Beta (because if it isn't in beta, it isn't cool), a music download service that offers up music as it was meant to be: DRM free. EMI is onboard, as well as iTunes hating Universal, and a host of smaller record labels. Prices for single tracks vary but most are between $.89 and $.99 with most of the top 100 tracks going for $.89. Album prices are also variable ranging from $5.99 to $9.99.
Thanks to the lack of DRM, and the fact that these files are MP3s (encoded at 256 kilobits per second which is the same bit rate as iTunes Plus but for less money) you can save money (in most circumstances) and enjoy this music in iTunes and on your iPhone and iPod.
I hope Apple is ready for some healthy competition in the digital downloads market.