Amazon has rolled out a cloud-based music streaming service ahead of Apple and Google that are also said to be planning similar services.
You can access the songs stored in the Amazon cloud from any PC or Mac via the browser or from an Android-based mobile device.
The service provides 5GB of free space in the cloud, enough for about 1,000 songs.
To get more storage, you’ve got to shell out bucks. For instance, $20 a year gets you 20GB (enough for 4,000 songs), $50 a year for 50GB (10,000 songs) and so on. Purchases of MP3 tracks at Amazon and saved to its Cloud Drive are stored for free and do not count against the storage quota.
Of course, we can’t imagine any of you Indian thieving bastards ever shelling out money to store your stolen music. That’ll be the day hell freezes over. 😛
How Amazon Cloud Streaming Works
First, you have to create an account at Amazon. Since we already had an account we just logged in and got down to business.
When we popped our Ennio Morricone CDs into our CD drive and uploaded the songs it didn’t take long for the transfer from the PC to the cloud drive. Just took about 40 seconds to move 50 songs.
Complications started soon after that.
You see, the tracks in the cloud drive wouldn’t play in our browser despite our trying both Firefox and Internet Explorer. Apparently, the formats of the songs in the CD are not compatible with the Amazon cloud music service. Only MP3 and .m4a (AAC files including Apple iTunes Store purchased songs) formats are currently supported by Amazon.
So in order to find compatible music on our PC, we had to first download the Amazon MP3 Uploader and install it.
After installation, double-click the Amazon MP3 Uploader to find and upload compatible music on your PC. The Upoader looks wide and far into your PC for compatible formats. It ultimately pulled up all the songs from our iTunes folders along with their playlists. You can pick and choose what you want to upload or upload all of them (remember, you pay if it exceeds 5GB).
The 106 songs and five Playlists we uploaded took up 14% of the 5GB free storage.
By the way, the music files are said to be uploaded in their original bit rate.
Once you upload the songs to your Amazon Cloud Drive you can play them on the Cloud Player via the browser. We played a bunch of songs via Firefox 4 browser and the streaming was fine.
You can also create Playlists on the Cloud. In our test, the existing iTunes Playlists transferred over smoothly.
So, now we don’t have to rely on our iPhone or desktops that have iTunes installed. We can now play music from our Asus netbook which doesn’t have the iTunes software on it. All we need is a WiFi connection.
What about Android?
Cloud Player for Android is now bundled into the new version of the Amazon MP3 App. It features the full Amazon MP3 Store and the mobile version of Cloud Player. Customers can use the app to play music stored on their Cloud Drive and music stored locally on their device. Features include the ability to search and browse by artist, album or song, create playlists and download music from Cloud Drive.
A Big Deal?
No, particularly for those of us who rely on iTunes for our music.
With the iPhone and the ability to store iTunes-purchased songs on up to three PCs/Laptops/Macs, very few would really need another backup in the form of a cloud.
Now if you schmucks’ll excuse our glass of gin beckons.