Amazon Cloud Player Puts Your Music in the Cloud

For the last couple of years, everyone has been expecting both Apple and Google to officially announce and launch their online music players — music in the “Cloud.” I was particularly excited for Apple to announce an online version of iTunes after the bought up my favorite online service, lala (RIP); however, that day has yet to come. When Amazon announced their Cloud Drive/Cloud Player, I was actually pretty surprised because I hadn’t heard much about it. After trying it out I’m pretty happy, and very surprised that they beat Apple and Google to the punch.

Over the next few of days, I’ll be talking about both Amazon Cloud Player and Amazon Cloud Drive. Since I started using Player first, we’ll start with that.

What is Amazon Cloud Player?

Amazon Cloud Player

Amazon Cloud Player is an online music player that integrates completely with your Amazon account. You’re given 5GB of storage for free (which is between 1,000-2,000 songs, depending on the length and the format) and there are several plans that you can upgrade to if you want to add more storage.

Amazon Cloud Drive Plans

When you purchase music from Amazon MP3, it gets added to your Cloud Player, and you can download it to any computer you’re logged into, or to your Android device using their Amazon MP3 app.

Downloading Music

Amazon MP3 Downloader

If you’re familiar with purchasing mp3s off of Amazon, You know that your need the Amazon MP3 Downloader to put them on your computer. This will automatically download your purchases and add them to your music library (if you use iTunes or Windows Media Player). Now that Amazon Cloud Player has launched, you can choose to save your songs to Cloud Drive and then download the purchases automatically. Do to that, from Amazon Cloud Player, go to Settings in the top right hand corner and choose “Your Amazon MP3 Settings.” You be taken to this page

Amazon MP3 Settings

Under Your Amazon MP3 Store Settings, make sure, “Save to Amazon Cloud Drive” is selected. Once it is it will change to, “Your MP3 Purchases will be saved to Amazon Cloud Drive.” The same goes for Your Amazon Cloud Player Settings. Make sure, “Automatically download MP3 purchases made on this computer from Amazon Cloud Drive” is selected. It will changed to, “Your MP3 purchases made on this computer will be automatically downloaded from Amazon Cloud Drive.”

You don’t necessarily have to do this. If you don’t, you’ll be prompted at your first Amazon MP3 purchase. Likewise if you haven’t installed the Amazon MP3 Downloader.

Now, whenever you purchase mp3s from Amazon, they’ll automatically get downloaded to your computer. You can also manually download any song in your Amazon Cloud Player.

Download a Song

When you hover over a song in Amazon Cloud Player, you’ll see a small down arrow next to the Album title. Click on that arrow and you’ll see the option to download that song to whatever computer you happen to be on.

Remember, each computer you want to download music on to needs to have Amazon MP3 Downloader.

This is great if you want to transfer music or specific playlists; however, while you can download multiple songs, there is no “Select All” function in the “Songs” view. There is in the “Artists,” “Albums,” “Playlist,” and “Genres” views.

While having a place online to listen to your purchased music is great, this isn’t the best part of Amazon Cloud Player. Using Amazon’s MP3 Uploader, you can upload music from your computer to the cloud.

Uploading Music

Amazon MP3 Uploader

To upload your music to Amazon Cloud Player, click on the “Upload to Your Cloud Drive” button. You’ll then be prompted to download the Amazon MP3 Uploader. The uploader will scan your computer for all of your music and playlists, and you’ll be able to choose what you want to upload.

I think the nicest thing about the uploader is that it keeps your playlists in tact so you don’t have to recreate them once you add them to your Cloud Player. My biggest problem with the uploader is the amount of time it takes to upload your music. I’ve been working a few days now to get 20GB worth of music into Amazon Cloud Player. It averages about a minute per song (though it does upload your album art too) and if I try to do too much at one, it times out on me. I know my ISP/upload rate has something to do with the time, though I’m not sure why it times out/stops sometimes.

My Thoughts on Amazon Cloud Player

Amazon MP3 Android App QR Code

I think that Amazon Cloud Player is a great and revolutionary app. There is finally some congruence between the music on all of my devices, including my Android phone. The fact that I can upload once and download onto whatever device I want is also a big plus. That means if I forgot to sync my phone’s music before I leave the house, I can grab the song on Amazon Cloud Player. You can get the Android app by using the QR code to the right.

The online interface is pretty straight forward and designed in the same vein as Rdio or Grooveshark. Your music is organized by songs, artist, album, genre, and playlist, and you can do a search on your music as well.

As far as support for Amazon Cloud Player goes, you can use the following browsers: IE8+, Firefox 3.5+, Chrome, and Safari, and you’ll need javascript enabled. At this point, iOS is not supported, neither with the online interface, nor a native app. AAC (.m4a files you get from iTunes) and mp3 file formats are supported for upload. You won’t be able to upload a song if it has DRM, it’s a podcast, or it’s file size is over 100MB.

A 100MB audio file is probably around 50 minutes in length, depending on the sample rate and file type.

While $20/year for 20GB is fine, the continued rate of $1/GB/year can get a bit pricy. I don’t think $500/year for 500 GB is something that’s worth paying for. That being said, the pricing is much more competitive than something like Dropbox, which charges almost $2/GB/year.

My Wishlist

(Clever, isn’t is?) The list of features I’d like to see from Amazon Cloud Player isn’t very long. The first is one combined app for both the Uploader and Downloader. As a guy who doesn’t like seeing a litany of apps in his dock, I’d really like to see a single app from Amazon MP3 that can do both uploading and downloading.

The only other feature (and it’s a big one), is autosyncing for selected artists/playlists. Right now, if I change a playlist, I’ll have to reupload it. I’d really like to see this done automatically- it’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but it’s a “nice to have” feature.

Conclusion

Amazon beat both Apple and Google to the punch as far as cloud based music goes, though I’m really glad they decided to take Android along for the ride. The web app is solid, streaming is fine (on Wifi and 3G, actually), and it is incredibly intuitive. The fact that I can upload my music to the cloud and download it on my phone is pretty awesome. I strongly recommend checking it out.


Summary

Amazon Cloud Player is an online music player that integrates completely with your Amazon account, as well as allows you to upload and download music to their servers.

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