The Hippo


Apr 17, 2014








Silver linings
Play music from the cloud

By John Andrews

“Are you writing about the Cloud Drive/Player?” a friend excitedly e-mailed me last week. “It’s pretty nifty so far.”

Amazon is offering not only online storage, but a program for Windows, Mac OS and Android to play your uploaded music directly from your online account. Cloud Drive gives you 5GB of space for free, and Cloud Player lets you stream your music anywhere.

This kind of service isn’t new, but Amazon has the infrastructure in place to take it to the next level. First off, buy an MP3 album from them and your Cloud Drive jumps from 5GB to 20GB for a year at no extra charge. The real coup d’état, though, is that any MP3s you buy from Amazon are automatically stored there and don’t count against your storage limit.

The line of thinking is obvious: if the same songs are 99 cents at Amazon or iTunes (or Wal-Mart, or Napster, etc.), why not buy from the service that lets you store them online and play them anywhere? If you need more space, sign up for 20GB, 50GB, 100GB, 200GB, 500GB or 1000GB at $1 per gigabyte per year.

Assuming Cloud Drive and Cloud Player don’t put them out of business, there are plenty of alternatives — or supplements, if you’re sanguine about splitting your song library among multiple sites. Probably Amazon’s most serious competitor in terms of features, MP3tunes actually beats the giant in a few areas. The initial free storage is only 2GB, but they’re already sending invitations to active users for free 10GB accounts, and more space is available at a lower cost than Amazon. Perhaps more importantly, you can listen on more devices — in addition to computers and Android devices, you can stream to your iPhone, Palm WebOS or Windows Phone 7 phone, TiVo, Wii, Playstation 3 and a bunch of standalone Internet radios. Want your music to be “mashable”? That’s what AudioBox calls its integration with other online services, including the ever-present Facebook and Twitter, YouTube, and Dropbox. Love a song? It can be tweeted automatically and added to your preferences on Downside? You only get 1GB free and more storage is expensive: 10GB more is $3.99 per month (not per year!), 25GB is $7.99 and 150GB is $9.99. That last tier is actually competitive when you do the math — about $120 per year for 150GB is less than $1 per gigabyte — so they’re still worth considering. Another competitor not to be underestimated. You get 2GB free storage and the player is compatible with computers and Android devices. They also have a music store with eight million tracks, which isn’t as huge as it sounds, but you do get free storage for anything you buy there. You also have the option to permanently buy your storage space, which means no pesky monthly fees. 100GB is $99.99, essentially the same as only one year at Amazon.

• Here’s where things start to get sketchy. 1GB is free, but “unlimited” storage is only $2.99 per month. Presumably they have some fantastic de-duplication algorithm so that they’re only storing one copy of Rebecca Black droning “Friday” rather than a million copies of it in a million accounts, but I would hope all these services are doing that. Not sure how they can afford to offer infinite storage so cheaply when they can’t even manage a copy editor to sort out their loose/lose confusion and numerous typos on their website. Android, iPhone and “any Internet Browser” are supported. Good luck with, say, Lynx.

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