Living in the Cloud: Google Music, Amazon Cloud and iTunes Match

I have over 18,000 songs ripped from CDs I’ve been buying since 1983 or 1984.  It was a big project to rip them, and I bought a couple external hard drives to back up my work.  One of those drives stopped working recently, and it’s a pain to keep master library and backups in sync, especially since I keep one drive off site.  In fact, I gave up on keeping my collection and backups in sync.  So when cloud music storage came out I thought wow, this is a great idea.

The first service I tried was Google Music since it was free.  It has an upload app that runs as a background service and I spent a couple weeks getting my collection online.  I mainly listen to music at my home office computer, my work office computer, and in the den with a HTPC hooked up to my stereo system.  I have an iPad and iPod touch, but I don’t like listening to music on those devices.   I just don’t like hearing music through earbuds.

I did test Google music out on my iPad and strangely enough the album listings look best on the iPad.  Google Music looks bad on large screen desktop monitors because I think the album thumbnail images are optimized for phones and tablets.  Their web player has basic controls for play/pause, next, previous, repeat and shuffle – nothing fancy but gets the job done.

Here is the album view.  You can blow up all images by clicking on them.

google-music

Here is what it looks like to play an album – the controls are along the bottom.

google-music-player

Then I uploaded my music to Amazon Cloud.  It also took a couple weeks, but it was a web app that kept crashing.  Also, Amazon’s upload app found all my audio books and uploaded them.  I really didn’t want it to do that, but it did.  I already had 20gb of storage at Amazon’s cloud because I had bought an album on promotion, and Amazon recently gave unlimited music upload space to anyone with 20gb of space or more.  When the renewal comes up, storing my music on Amazon Cloud will be $20 a year.  Here’s the album view for the Amazon Cloud player.

amazon.cloug

Notice the album covers are nicer looking.  Here’s what the album player looks like.  The same basic controls as Google Music.

amazon-cloud-player

iTunes Music Match works different.  It works through iTunes – which I hate.  I was hoping it would have a web client too, but it doesn’t.  So I can’t play music on my Linux machines.  Nor do I want to install iTunes on all my machines.  And for some strange reason iTunes in album view iTunes sorts by artist, so I couldn’t recreate the album images like I did with Google Music and Amazon Cloud.

itunes

Here’s the player view.

itunes-player

Because iTunes Music Match costs $25 a year, and it’s from Apple, which has a reputation for style and slickness, I thought I would like it best.  I didn’t.  I like it least because it’s tied to iTunes.  The music match feature worked beautifully, and within minutes 15,000 of my albums were online.  It took two days to upload 3,350 unmatched albums.  This is a more sophisticated way to get albums into the cloud, but playing them is limited to machines with iTunes.

Another strange thing about iTunes is it did the poorest job of finding album covers.  Apple is so visual that I found this disappointing.  I have spent a lot of extra time trying to find the covers and put them into iTunes so I can enjoy album flow viewing, but I gave up somewhere in the D’s.  Now there’s a company that fixes this problem with a program called Tune-Up.  However, it’s expensive.  $39.95 per year, or $49.95 for a lifetime license.  It annoys me so much not having the artwork that I am tempted to spend the money, but I’ve decided that I just don’t like iTunes Music Match if I have to use iTunes.

Finally, iTunes plays music differently.  Google and Amazon streams from the cloud.  No internet, no music.  iTunes lets you download songs from the cloud.  The others do too, but iTunes seems to emphasize download.  You can have up to 10 devices sharing your Music Match cloud library, but what appears to happen is the music gets downloaded to each new device.  You can tell your satellite devices to intentionally download the music so you can play it offline, and this will be a great feature for most people who use iPhones and iPads.  However, it will fill up your device with music.  I prefer streaming.

As far as I was concerned iTunes Music Match was $25 down the drain.  However, Mac users who own Mac, iPhone and iPad will always have iTunes and so Music Match will be worth it to them.  iTunes Music Match seems geared to iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users, to help on-the-go users get music down from the cloud.

Now I have to decide between Google and Amazon.  Because I’m a dedicated Chrome user I’m partial to Google.  Because I’m a dedicated Amazon customer, I’m equally partial to Amazon.  I’m leaning towards the Amazon cloud because the player looks better.  However, it will cost me $20 a year.  I’m going to maintain both for now, or until I see what Google charges.  I’m an Amazon Prime user, so I wish they’d made unlimited music storage free for Prime members.

My next project is to thin out my collection.  I’m not sure how well Google and Amazon update their clouds.  I want to make one perfect copy of my library in Windows Media Player and hopefully Amazon and Google will keep this master library in sync.  Another test will be to download my collection to my work machine to see how well these clouds can be used as backup to restore my collection.  But these are for future reports because it will take months to do all this.

JWH – 2/12/12

6 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, Amazon does not provide the cloud service to Cyprus. As for Itunes, i have fallen out of love with the service when during a syncing process (PC and Iphone) i lost most of my albums i bought through itunes.

    I cannot accept that a service does not allow a user to redownload an album which was legitimately bought and it shows up in the purchase history. It does allow it for apps but not for music.

    I have not tried Google service yet.

    Right now i started the process of ripping my collection to two Hard Drives. One on my desktop and another one on an external hard disk. I don’t have many CDs but i do have the problem that some are in Greek. I have a to say it is a pain in the a** so i find it incredible that you did this for 18,000 songs!!

    • I’ve always thought iTunes should back up anything you’ve ever bought from them. At Audible.com, a site for audio books, owned by Amazon, I can re-download any book I’ve ever bought from them, going back to 2002 when I first joined. This include books they no longer sell that have gone out of print. All services selling digital products should do that.

      It took a long time to rip all my CDs, and I’ve discovered there are a few errors, so I need to rip some CDs again. Some days I think I should just forget music I own and stick with streaming music because it’s so much easier. Owning music is a pain and a lot of work.

  2. “This include books they no longer sell that have gone out of print.”

    ?? Do you mean you can download the corresponding ebooks of paper copies you bought in the past? Or if you are just talking about ebooks, why would an ebook ever go out of print or be unavailable for purchase? Some kind of rights issue might do it I suppose. And if that’s the case, do we ever get to that future where the utility of electronic media is realized and everything is available all the time?

    • Just the digital audio books from Audible.com. However, now that I think about it, it might apply to the ebooks too. I can get on any device, PC or Mac, Kindle or Ipad, iPhone/iPod touch and download my book again. I can read at night on my Kindle 3, go to work and call up the book on my iPod touch and the Kindle app remembers where I was on the Kindle 3. I could go home and switch to the iPad 2 and the Kindle for iPad app will download the book and take me to where I left off. I can go to a PC or Mac and get the Kindle Reader for them and do the same thing.

      I can also call up my Audible.com audio books on my iPod touch.

  3. [...] the original post: Living in the Cloud: Google Music, Amazon Cloud and iTunes Match … by wibbveoubadp posted under 1000, 20, 2011, 512, 81, ab, account, amazon, app, Apple, [...]

  4. Whoops. Somehow I skipped over Audible and only saw Amazon. Still, the same question applies — why should an audiobook that is sold as a digital download ever go “out of print”.

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