You See How He Treats The Waiter: Cautionary Tales About Amazon for Writers, Musicians, etc

Waiter on Copacabana BeachYou know the saying.  “Don’t judge a man by how he treats his date.  Judge him by how he treats the waiter.”

In this case, Linux users are the waiter, and Amazon is the (rather boorish) date.

Purchase an album at Amazon, and you can use their downloader to get the whole album at one swoop.  Unless you run Linux.  Then you can only download it one tedious song at a time via the Cloud Player.

This is new(ish)1 behavior;  you used to be able to use either the official (and poorly supported) downloader or a tool like Pymazon.  But round about the beginning of September, they disallowed that and introduced a kind of DRM-lite.  Oh, you can still use the downloader if you’re on Windows or OSX.  Just not if you’re on Linux.  No warning, just “boom!”  My experience is pretty much the same as other folks. (Fix found – which almost pisses me off more.2)

Sure, you can still download it from the Cloud Player.  Which is a pain in the ass.  And again, not something anyone else has to do on another operating system.   And that’s the part that pisses me off… and makes me think of a guy being a dick to the waiter.

I realize that there’s not a bazillion and a half linux users in the US.  We’re small fry.  And sure, supporting a third OS can be a bit inconvenient – but when there are two openly developed programs that are specifically for supporting your store… well, they really didn’t have to do any work.  But the unnecessary, callous brushing aside says a lot about Amazon’s attitude to a userbase who has been pretty supportive of their MP3 store in the past.

Which makes me really, really nervous about how Amazon will treat artists and authors and readers when they think it’s inconvenient.

Oh wait.  We already know how they’ll treat readers and how they’ll treat authors.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.  My letter to them is below. 

I have been a loyal customer of your MP3 store for some time now.  I have recommended it to others because Amazon both avoided the use of DRM and it was easily accessible regardless of operating system.  I have encouraged *ARTISTS* to make their music available on Amazon.

When support for the linux downloader lagged, I persisted, because there were  alternative downloaders that worked just as well.

I ignored the cloud player when it was rolled out.  I do not have a great high-bandwidth connection, and definitely don’t have a data plan that makes playing from the cloud a useful answer.

Amazon’s policy decision to EXPLICITLY DISALLOW me from downloading my purchases as “full albums” and forcing me to download them one at a time through the Cloud Player…

…you basically took away the one reason why I was buying music from Amazon instead of Google or Apple (or, god forbid, Canonical) instead.

I do not understand why Amazon decided to explicitly shut Linux users out instead of *working* with us.  Hell, I’m sure someone’s already figured out how to run the Windows version of the downloader in WINE or a virtual machine.  I probably will if there’s something I absolutely CANNOT get elsewhere.  I’ll probably take the time to figure out a way around this STUPID, arbitrary crap, simply for the satisfaction of being able to.  And I will be cussing Amazon every second of it.2

Congratulations!  You’ve made one more computer nerd who likes purchasing his music legally FROM YOU not only want to spend the time to find a way around your restrictions, but also to dislike you for it.

But once I’ve done that…until Amazon figures this out and stops *explicitly* shutting out Linux users, whenever possible, I’m going to take my MP3 dollars elsewhere.

1I must have been one of the last people to check out under the old system, as I bought quite a bit during August, and then paused for a few months.  The two albums I’ve bought since then were from bandcamp.
2Wanna know what the solution is? By simply telling Amazon I was using Windows. I used the user-agent switcher extension for Firefox. Boom. Problem solved, pretty much as described in this post about using Banshee. And believe you me, I’m REALLY cussing Amazon now.

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