Amazon's Auto-Rip: A Great Idea, But With A Hidden Downside

As we mentioned in a brief autopsy of the music industry’s terrible year, 2012 was a bad, bad year for physical media with music stored on it, and a great year for MP3s. We mention this to you because Amazon is doing something very… curious with your purchase history.

Amazon has launched a program called “Auto Rip”, which essentially boils down to “You bought a CD? Great! Here’s the MP3s you’re just going to rip off of it anyway for free.”:

After you complete a purchase of an AutoRip CD, a free MP3 version of that album will be added to your Amazon Cloud Player library and will be available on your PC/Mac, Kindle Fire, Android phone, iPhone & iPod Touch, and iPad. Albums eligible for this offer are marked on with an AutoRip logo. If you do not yet have a Cloud Player account, you can activate one for free. Available to US customers only.

This is actually incredibly convenient, although also blatantly designed to drive people towards using Amazon’s Cloud Player. You can at least download the MP3s for listening elsewhere. And apparently as the service expands, it’ll add MP3s to your cloud player. Currently it’s limited to “thousands” of CDs.

Here, however, is our question: How many CDs did you buy from Amazon?

That’s not meant as a snarky one liner. Seriously. Think back. Auto-Rip goes back to purchases made in 1998, and the late ’90s and early 2000s are pretty close to the Golden Era of Terrible Musical Decisions. We didn’t just badly photoshop Celine Dion into The Shining because it was funny: 1998 was when My Heart Will Go on shattered chart records and somehow drove Celine Dion to stop eating. There are a lot of people who never want to admit that they bought that album, but once it falls to Auto-Rip, they’ll get a reminder when they least expect it.

Think about all the CDs you bought. All the crappy Top 40 bands where you bought the album because you couldn’t get the song out of your head. All the gifts you bought for teenage nieces and loving grandmothers. All the cassette replacements for your dad who just would not stop listening to the f*cking Eagles.

Yes, every bad musical decision you (and others in your family!) have ever made, that you quietly dumped at a used record store right after college? Amazon is making sure that they come back to haunt you. This decision is popular now, but man, wait until you confront how much your taste in music sucked in high school.

Oh, and it’s automatic, so if you use Cloud Player at work, you might want to turn it down.