Saturday, April 02, 2011

Cloud Music

When I first read about Amazon's new Cloud Player, I thought it was a gimmick - I've got thousands of songs on a 500 GB pocket drive, backed up on two other external hard drives (not to mention 4,400 songs on my iPod Touch) - why do I need music in "the cloud" - which is just a gimmicky word for the remote storage and computing accessed through the internet, right? Right? Well, I am an occasional early adopter, as well as a sucker for marketing and cheap MP3 deals. The basic "cloud drive" offer is 5 GB of online storage for free, but if you buy any MP3 album from Amazon (something I do quite often anyway, usually on sale for cheap), they will give you 20 GB free for a year. And there was a Norah Jones album I was thinking of buying anyway for $2.99, so I gave it a try.

Although I use iTunes and the iPod Touch, I long ago converted to buying MP3's from Amazon rather than AAC's (or whatever they are called now) from iTunes. Same songs, often cheaper, and more portable, and now, Amazon will also back up your Amazon MP3 purchases on your "cloud drive" - for free. "Free" as in they don't charge your for the storage space used by new Amazon MP3 purchases - the 20 GB is only for music you upload (including MP3's previously purchased from Amazon - the free storage only applies to new MP3 purchases). This really adds value to something I was buying anyway (they even store free MP3's that I "buy" from Amazon - daily free songs plus many sampler and promotional albums).

I realize this sounds like a paid political announcement for Jeff Bezos, but I'm now really sold on this cloud thing. I've bought a few other MP3 albums on sale at Amazon and have even started to upload my own music to the Cloud Drive.  I think it's really cool that my backup music storage can be independent of my own hardware, and that I can stream this music anywhere I can run a web browser (except on the iPod Touch, but there's plenty of music there anyway, plus Pandora and other internet radio music if I grow tired of my 4,400 songs). I can also download any of the music I have on the Cloud Drive any time I need to, which I will need to do for anything I plan to listen to on the iPod Touch (there is a Cloud Player app for Android devices, but I'm guessing that Apple will not approve an Amazon Cloud Player app any time soon). Of course it all depends on having an internet connection, but 90% of the time, I do. So it's really cool.