3 Best Music Apps for the Cloud
In the world of music, 2011 was the year of the cloud. If you’re unfamiliar with this new concept, it is essentially a magical, far-off place where your music is stored for instant access from anywhere—provided you have an Internet connection.
It’s exciting that music has become more accessible than ever. For a long while, the biggest barrier to online music distribution was storage size. But with cloud storage now en vogue, your entire music library is accessible from anywhere, without the necessity of cramming it all onto your phone or mp3 player.
For music lovers, the access to music presented by music apps and services like Pandora, Amazon, Google Music and Spotify is both unprecedented and exhilarating. This list here on The Recapp compares the three biggest new services to hit the scene in 2011: Amazon MP3, Google Music and Spotify. That being said, you wouldn’t be making a mistake to start using any one of them, whether you prefer Ke$ha or Bob Dylan.
Amazon was the first company to throw its hat into the cloud. The free service performs a one-time sync of your music library, and from then on, it’s available anywhere through the web and its mobile music app. The Amazon music service offers regular promotions to help expand your library capacity, and any music purchased through Amazon is free to store.
New music can be added to your library from other sources, as well. But as you might expect, Amazon makes a point to integrate its music service with its MP3 store. The music player and the store are two sides of the same coin on this free music app, which makes it easy to add new music on the cheap. Most songs are the standard $0.99, and Amazon regularly sells full albums for only $5.
The resemblance between Amazon MP3 and its rival music service providers is stark. Well, at least in terms of functionality. We have to admit that Google Music’s slick interface and minimalist design gains an edge when it comes to aesthetics. The Amazon music service also lacks the social functionality of Spotify, but frankly, you might not care what your friends are listening to. This is about your music library, after all.
We at The Recapp consider Google Music to be the prettiest of the cloud music apps, and Google’s foray into modern music consumption is completely free and provides storage for up to 20,000 songs, regardless of file size. Google Music functions in largely the same fashion as Amazon: your existing music library syncs to the Google Music cloud from the Music Manager desktop application, and from there, it’s accessible from anywhere (so long as you have an Internet connection).
New music can be added to your library from any source, whether it’s iTunes, Amazon or the Android Market. Through the free Google Music app, you can only buy new music from the Android Marketplace. However, selection is decidedly vast, and there are regular specials for $5 albums (again, a la Amazon).
Despite being a bit prettier, Google Music’s major feature is its offline mode. While connected to the Internet, select songs, albums, or playlists you want to access web-free, and they’ll be there the next time you’re without service. It takes some foresight, but the ability to cut the proverbial Internet umbilical cord makes Google Music that much more powerful.
Spotify’s approach to cloud music is, in some sense, the opposite approach than that of Amazon MP3 and Google Music. Those services offer free cloud storage and apps, but charge for new music. Spotify is a paid monthly service that grants users access to its full music library—no purchasing of individual songs or albums necessary.
We should clarify: Spotify is also a free service through your desktop. But if you want to cut out ads and gain access to their mobile app (and the ability to listen to the full Spotify library wherever you go), you must have a Premium account. You’ll also gain the ability to listen to tunes in offline mode, similar to Google Music. A Spotify Premium account is $9.99 a month, which, if you do some simple math, is about the cost of an album per month.
While gated access to a mobile app may seem like a strange approach, it’s one that makes sense. Access and mobility are the holy grail of the modern music industry, and Spotify may have a better grasp on that than anyone. The ability to type in almost any artist or song title and listen to it on the fly is liberating, and it sure beats paying for something before you even know if you like it.
Spotify syncs to your existing library as well and, partnered with Facebook, offers the best social integration of the big three. Seeing what your friends are listening to, sharing songs and subscribing to friends’ playlists really completes the music-listening experience.