Customers who have bought CDs and vinyl records from Amazon over the past 14 years can now download a free digital version for use on their iPhone, Android or Amazon device.

CD sales
Amazon customers get free digital copies of any CD bought on the site since 1999. (Credit: Reuters)

Called AutoRip, the service launched in the US in January and has now spread to the UK and Europe, and has more than 350,000 albums available for download.

Customers who log into Amazon's Cloud Player online music locker will find any album they have bought physically from Amazon since 1999, providing they are included in the 350,000 made available - more obscure albums may not be offered in digital form.

The music can then be streamed from Amazon or downloaded as 256Kbps MP3 files and uploaded to the customer's iPhone, iPad, Android device, Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets, or any other MP3-playing device.

Amazon does not charge for any music downloaded through AutoRip, and the service saves customers from spending time ripping their CDs to a computer.

Although digital downloads account for more than 97% of singles sales in the UK, album sales are still dominated by physical purchases, as 69.6% of albums sold in the UK in 2012 were on CD, vinyl or other physical formats.

Amazon's Cloud Player is free for storing up to 250 tracks, but any songs gathered through the AutoRip service will not count towards this total. Users with more than 250 tracks can pay £21.99 a year for a premium version, which offers enough space for 250,000 songs.

AutoRip is similar to Apple's iTunes Match service, which also costs £21.99 a year, but only offers space for 25,000 songs already owned on CD. Google's alternative Play music locker is free and offers space for up to 20,000 songs.

Aside from the convenience of having digital versions of physical music, such locker services are popular with customers because they no longer have to pay out for a digital version of a physical song or album they already own.