If you prefer to roll your own music service by collecting MP3s and uploading them to a music locker in the cloud, from which you can play it on your computers, smartphones, tablets, and so on, rather than paying for something like Spotify, then oh boy, does Amazon have some good news for you.
Today, the company announced that instead of tediously uploading each and every track into your locker (boring!), you’ll be able to “scan and match” your collection into Amazon’s Cloud Player — the same way you already can with Apple’s iCloud. This is a crucial feature — it’s why we thought iCloud might win this music locker race.
Now, Amazon is basically on equal footing with Apple — especially because it has Amazon Cloud Player apps for not only computer browsers and Google Android, but Apple’s iOS devices too.
As with Apple iCloud, every song you zap into the cloud (uploading is so passé) gets upconverted to 256 Kbps, which means it will sound better than your original MP3s if those were encoded at a lower bit rate.
Offering this feature is no mean feat, and likely cost Amazon a pretty penny, or at least a cut of revenue from the premium locker. (The same feature reportedly cost Apple over $100 million.) This scan-and-match feature requires permission from not only every major label, but all the major publishers, plus every single indie label, band, and publisher (or their representatives) whose music is affected.
There is a catch. You used to be able to upload 5GB of music to the Amazon Cloud for free. As of today, you can still store up to 5GB of storage for music, photos, etc. in your Cloud Drive, which is now a separate thing from your Cloud Player, which can only hold up to 250 songs, unless you pony up for the premium version ($25/year for up to 250,000 songs).
“Music uploaded to Cloud Player or Cloud Drive before July 31st is available in both services,” says Amazon. “However, going forward any music you add to one service won’t be available in the other.”
There is also a bonus, in the form of additional devices beyond just computers, iOS, and Android devices. Amazon also announced that its Cloud Player lockers will be accessible from Roku and Sonos devices within the home, so you can play your “upzapped” music (as well as the MP3s you buy from Amazon, which get added to the locker automatically) on the best speakers in the house, taking advantage of that 256 Kbps bit rate.