Amazon Offers Digital Music Downloads, Toys Next?

Amazon.com Inc. is once again expanding
its e-commerce offerings, this time launching a new, free digital-download
area where music buffs can access music using Liquid Player and the MP3 format.

Beginning Tuesday, music buffs can download and listen
to more than 20 full-length songs, including some previously unreleased, by 14 artists, including Sarah McLachlan, Cowboy Junkies, Lyle Lovett, Cheap Trick and Randy Newman. The downloads are free. The section will also feature exclusive interviews and articles written by artists.

“Free downloads are a great way for listeners to discover new music —
and a superb way to promote artists and their CDs,” said Jennifer Cast,
general manager of
Amazon.com’s music store. “Our free downloads area will evolve over time, so
music fans will want to check back regularly to get the latest tracks from
our ever-expanding roster of
artists.”

Amazon said it decided to expand its previous offering of 30-second samples
after a successful run of two free, full-length songs in May from the
upcoming release, “Mirror Ball,” by Sarah McLachlan.
The trial also included full-length songs by Public Enemy.

Amazon is also rumored to be strongly considering launching an e-commerce
area for toys, in what the The Wall
Street Journal
calls “one of the worst kept secrets in online
commerce.”

In Tuesday’s Journal article, several sources told the paper that
the e-c pioneer will make the foray into the hot e-tail toys sector,
pitting it against recent success story , and ToysRUs, which is scrambling to play
catch-up with a late entry into the field.

According to the WSJ, Amazon began considering selling toys and games
online after a trial run of a toy section in its online gift menu area
last Christmas. Company executives were reportedly caught
off-guard by the section’s success and favorable response from user.

In late May CNET reported that Amazon was
interested in taking a 40 percent stake in toy e-tailer BabyCenter Inc., but was outbid by rival etoys.

Amazon has reportedly been hiring buyers and merchandisers known in the toy industry and also
building its toy inventory.

The moves already has toy veterans watching closely. ToysRUs
Chief Executive Officer Robert Moog told the Journal “They’re going to get in it in a really big way. Their team is already put together and they began notifying manufacturers of their plans in February. I would expect them to announce something in 30 to 45
days.”

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