Back in mid-January, Billboard reported Sony BMG would make its catalog available for Amazon’s MP3 store, giving an approximate time table of "late this month" (i.e. January.) Well, it’s the end of February, and I didn’t see a follow-up news item anywhere. So I checked for myself. Sure enough, Sony BMG kept their word.
Among the majors, Sony has always struck me as one of the least adventurous in terms of A&R. One of the first Sony bands I searched on Amazon? Sade. The next? Hiroshima. When I try to think of artists similar to, say, Morrissey, Bill Frisell or Jane’s Addiction on Sony, I draw a blank. If I’m looking for classical repertoire before 1900, I can trust Sony Classical. After 1900, I’ll go to Nonesuch or an independent label.
The Kate Bush selection is a bit more complete, thankfully.
Before the merger, BMG was more adventurous than Sony, at one time distributing Beggars Banquet titles and signing the likes of Cowboy Junkies and Hoodoo Gurus. A few more Clannad titles are available, although their earliest and latest albums have been cast aside for three greatest hits collections. At least now I can crossgrade some Eurythmics and Annie Lennox albums from vinyl to digital.
More significant for Broadway fans are titles from RCA Victor, now called Masterworks Broadway. My particular yen is for Stephen Sondheim shows, such as Company and A Little Night Music. No Pacific Overtures or (bizarrely enough) Into the Woods, but Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd and Assassins are accounted for.
With all four majors providing content to Amazon, there’s now a significant alternative to the iTunes Store. I don’t shop at iTunes enough to see how comparable the offerings are, but I bet there are fewer holes in the iTunes catalog because DRM allowed labels to be a bit more, ahem, generous. But Amazon’s digital inventory is no slouch, and I can’t really see much incentive for me to launch iTunes.