Sunday, May 29, 2011

5 Things You Should Know About Cloud Music Services

Now that both Amazon and Google have launched their cloud music services, we're just waiting for Apple to complete the triumvirate with their imminent launch. In case you're not clear, a cloud music service (sometimes called a "music locker") stores your music on an online server then delivers it to any of your music playback devices. Before you choose a service though, here are a few facts you should know.

1. Why is a cloud music service so cool? Because you won't fill up half your hard drive with only music if it's stored online for one thing. You'll be able to access your music from any device that connects to the Internet, so you're not restricted to only the device that has your music loaded on it.

2. You have to manually upload your music on both Google Music and Amazon Cloud Drive. Because both Google and Amazon didn't get permission from the record labels, for right now at least you have to manually upload your entire library if you want access to it. That could take hours and hours depending upon how large the library and the speed of your Internet connection.

3. But you won't need to upload everything on Apple's service. That's the whole key about doing a deal with the record labels; if the service sees that you've already paid for a song or sees the song on your hard drive, it automatically loads a copy into your storage locker without you having to upload it. That means that you're uploading time can theoretically be a few minutes instead of hours and hours.

4. Apple also has a strategic advantage by doing the deals with the labels. If and when Amazon and/or Google decide that they really should have these deals in place, it's going to cost them a lot more to get the deal done. Apple has already set the deal precedent with their label agreements so they won't be getting better for the other two as a result. Any additional costs will get passed on the to consumer, so the Apple service may end up being cheaper than the other two in the long run.

5. Apple's service has another cool feature. Reportedly it pre-caches of a portion of the each song in your library on your player so that as soon as you choose a song, it instantly plays without having to wait to communicate with the cloud first unlike the other services.

The Apple announcement regarding the release of their cloud service is supposed to be any day now, and until that time, we won't have a real head-to-head comparison of services to look at. That said, cloud music is here to stay and it's just a matter of time before it becomes widely adopted.
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