Amazon’s New “HD” Service

I’ve been on more than one end of the Amazon, uh, experience.

I worked for an independent distributor that provided physical and digital music to Amazon from 2007 through 2017. During that time, I dealt with at least 12 different account managers at Amazon.

“Churn” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I had no idea who was in charge of our “content” from month to month. We were being handed off to someone new on a regular basis, and that person was often untrained, overworked, and/or clueless. It became an in-house joke.

Trying to get artists featured on Amazon was a waste of time. They’d take your money in return for placement and promotions, sure, but there’d be no metrics or accountability or reports telling you what resulted from the money you spent. With iTunes/Apple Music, you just had to send an email and a couple tracks, and bang, there it was, 90% of the time. Because iTunes people were music people. There was always someone at Apple who’d answer a voicemail, or an email. And they were always engaged.

But with Amazon, music wasn’t music, it was a widget. It didn’t matter if you were pitching high-profile acts with a proven sales record. There was no one to talk to on the other end. If something was broken on Amazon’s side, getting it fixed took weeks, often months.

No one there cared. If you could find anyone with the potential for caring, that is.

Today, having been informed of Amazon’s foray into higher-resolution downloads and streaming, I searched the site for any information about the upgraded service.

An Amazon search on “Amazon Music” and “digital music” resulted in nothing regarding high-resolution offerings. I’ve read first-person accounts of eager users befuddled by the lack of coordination on Amazon’s end, and, when using phone and chat to contact them, being told “this is all new to us, can we get back to you?”

You can find the introductory page with a web search, but Amazon is doing little or nothing on its own start page or music pages to push the launch. The only luck I had is by using the Amazon search box, pulling down the “digital music” category, then typing “ultra hd”. Of course, the first search result returned is an album titled “Ultra HD”.

And, of course, it was an MP3.

Finally, I was able to track down the page where I could log on for a free trial. I downloaded the macOS app. The UI looks like Qobuz and Tidal. However, two app icons showed up in my dock. One revealed itself to be in “not responding” mode, and when I force-quit it, it reappeared in the dock, and again froze. I deleted the app, rebooted, and reinstalled. Same result — multiple apps running, one freezing. I went into Activity Monitor and tried to force-quit several times before the app went away. But it always came back. I finally got rid of it by trashing the app icon immediately after a startup.

I question whether Amazon knows how to roll out a major upgrade like this, other than with a breezy press release. Because anyone trying to find out more is just gonna run head-on into the Amazon “experience.”

Amazon’s been cheapening books and music for over two decades now. And hey, nothing’s so cheap that Amazon can’t cheapen it further.