Storing and accessing music files online is a fairly new phenomenon, and one that many people still aren’t aware is an option. Well, thanks to “cloud storage,” housing large song banks online is an option, and our friends at Amazon and Google now have cloud-based music services that cater directly to our music-loving needs.
As I mentioned in a previous post, cloud storage is actually pretty basic: it’s essentially online storage. It’s made possible by online brands and businesses that offer virtual space in which users are allowed to upload and store data, normally for a fee. Cloud storage comes in handy for users interested in backing up their important files (like, say, music files) in more than one location.
With cloud storage, you no longer have to rely solely on an external hard drive to back up your music. The only tough part is choosing the right cloud service for your files, and as you can imagine, there are differences in the services offered by Amazon and Google, so let’s take a quick look at each:
Amazon Cloud Player
Sign up for the Amazon Cloud Player and Amazon will set you up with 5 GB of FREE storage space. Not too shabby! Plus, the Cloud Player is integrated with the Amazon MP3 store, which can transfer your purchased songs directly to your Cloud Player account. Furthermore, the music you download from the MP3 store won’t count against your overall storage capacity (which is a nice way for Amazon to say that they very much want you to use their service).
Need more than 5 GB of storage for your music? No problem! For a yearly fee, Amazon will upgrade your available storage space and give you unlimited storage for any non-Amazon music files (in MP3 or AAC form). Pricing ranges from $20 a year for 20 GB of storage to $1000 a year for 1000 GB and there are plenty of options in between. Not interested in paying the yearly fee? That’s cool. You can get instantly upgraded to 20 GB of storage (for FREE) by purchasing any digital album through Amazon’s MP3 store, but your storage (for non-Amazon music files) will be limited to 20 GB unless you pay the yearly fee.
You can access and stream your music through any internet-connected computer or laptop by logging into the Cloud Player. It’s that simple! If you have an Android device, you can use it to connect directly to the service through a downloadable app and listen to your music on the go! There’s even a Cloud Player app for iPad owners! Unfortunately, there’s no iPhone or iPod support yet.
Google Music Beta
As you may have guessed, Google Music Beta is in beta form, which means you’ll need an invite to use the service. But it will be widely available soon enough, and early reviews have been largely positive. Rather than following Amazon’s lead and limiting the amount of music data you’re able to store, Music Beta instead limits the number of songs you can store, and this is a very good thing. With Google’s service, you can store up to 20,000 songs, which amounts to roughly 1,500 or 2,000 albums (assuming that most albums contain 10 to 15 songs). That’s pretty generous!
On the downside though, Music Beta lacks an integrated store for music downloads, so you’ll have to shop elsewhere for future purchases and import them on your own. Also, there’s no word yet on the pricing structure for additional music storage. Still, the sheer amount of space you’re afforded through the service is quite a draw!
Again, you’ll be able to access your music through any internet-connected computer or laptop. Unfortunately, only Android devices will feature support for Google Music, so if you’re hoping to access the service through an iOS device (i.e. iPhone, iPod or iPad), you’re out of luck.
Pros & Cons
Amazon Cloud Player
- Connected with the Amazon MP3 store
- 5 GB of FREE storage; 20 GB FREE with purchase of one Amazon MP3 album
- Flexible pricing structure offering up to 100 GB of space
- Extra storage can be pricey
Google Music Beta
- HUGE storage capacity (up to 20,000 songs)
- No integrated MP3 store or digital download store
- No official support for iPhones, iPods or iPads
- No confirmed pricing structure
Both platforms offer playback on personal computers and Android devices, but storage and accessibility is key. Interested in a more seamless and structured experience? Go for the Amazon Cloud Drive! You’ll have easy integration with Amazon’s MP3 store and you’ll be able to add new music to your library with ease. Looking for a bottom-line storage unit with a huge capacity? Opt for Google Music Beta. You’ll have to wait in line for your invitation, but it looks like the service will be well worth the wait.
Side note: for a video comparison of Google Music Beta and the Amazon Cloud Player, click here.
By the way, if you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Apple’s new iCloud service in this post, don’t fret. At the time of this writing, Apple’s cloud service is only partially active. When more information becomes available, I’ll be sure to offer a follow-up post—so stay tuned.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Make them known below! Are you currently using one of the above services? Tell us about it!
Image by: digitalart