Amazon.com has announced the launch of a digital music store later this year offering millions of songs in the DRM-free MP3 format from more than 12,000 record labels.

EMI Music's digital catalogue was the first content to be officially named for the store, with hopefully more to follow.

Amazon.com have promised that every song and album will be available exclusively in the MP3 format without restrictive digital rights management (DRM) software.

The DRM-free MP3s will mean customers can play their music across virtually any personal devices PCs, Macs, iPods, and other MP3 players – and burn songs to CDs for personal use.

"Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device", said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO. "We're excited to have EMI joining us in this effort and look forward to offering our customers MP3s from amazing artists like Coldplay, Norah Jones and Joss Stone."

We hate to mentioned the "i" word, but Apple's online presence is massively domineering, boasting the world’s largest catalogue with over 2.5 billion songs sold to date.

EMI is the first major record label to start to offer downloadable music without built-in anti-piracy measures and previously announced a deal with Apple/iTunes in April who are charging slightly more for the DRM-free songs.

But if anyone can take Apple on you've got to think Amazon.com are noble contenders – they are, after all, currently the world's top retailer of CDs…