Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Amazon is first to market, Rdio and Audiogalaxy still offer better options

Introducing Amazon Cloud Player for Web and Android

So Amazon beats both Google and Apple to market with what I expect will be similar approaches to cloud based “music locker” services. You can upload, store, and stream your entire music library for $1 per gigabyte per year. Your first five gigabytes is free, and anything you buy from Amazon is free to store. That’s a good deal, made even better because Amazon’s music downloads are priced much more cheaply than iTunes and are frequently competitive with eMusic, neither of which currently offer a music locker service.

But there are some drawbacks that will probably keep me from using the service (much as I love Amazon).

  • It won’t work on your iPhone or iPad.
  • MP3s you’ve already purchased from Amazon aren’t included in the service. You can upload them, of course, but they’ll count against your 5 gb limit.
  • No social integration with Last.fm, Facebook, or Twitter. 

Right now Rdio and Audiogalaxy both offer more sensible, comprehensive approaches to music in the cloud. Rdio lets me stream more than 7 million songs with great social features and zero uploading. And if I want to listen to my own mp3 library, Audiogalaxy gives me streaming access to my entire hard drive (almost 200 gb) for free—again, with no uploading.

As I said, I expect iTunes and Google (and probably eMusic) to offer similar services, all of which will probably be oriented around purchasing, uploading, and storing mp3s. But I can’t figure out why I’d want to use any “music locker” option. Why chain myself to the old paradigm of storing thousands of digital files on a virtual drive? Why do that when I can more cheaply access millions of files with a small monthly subscription using Mog, Rhapsody, Rdio, or Spotify (when it gets here to the States)?

Amazon’s storage price isn’t bad, but it would cost me almost $200 a year to store my library. I pay Rdio about $120, and that gets me unlimited streaming and downloading to a mobile device. That’s all I need, and I don’t have the hassle of managing a drive full of files.

I will use Amazon’s free service. And probably Google’s. If only to stream my purchased music that isn’t available on Rdio. But unless one of the big three, Amazon, Google, or iTunes, figure out how to marry a subscription service with their music locker approach, or offer free storage (similar to Lala.com), I’m not interested.