When Apple launched iCloud, it included a feature that let you put your music in the cloud without manually uploading each song, which takes forever. That’s why we thought Apple, ironically given its download slant, might be your best bet for this ‘cloud music’ thing.
Today, as reported by Engadget, Google added the same feature, meaning that it too has made special arrangements with copyright holders (artists, labels, songwriters, and publishers) to scan the MP3s and other music files on your hard drive and send them up into Google’s cloud — up to 20,000 songs, for free, with no option to pay for more space.
That’s fine, but for most music fans, it’s probably irrelevant.
Why music fans should like scan-and-match: We are desperate for a good way to reunite our music collection with itself. I have different music on several computers and devices plus vinyl, CDs, cassettes, hard drives, Spotify playlists, MOG favorites, an Rdio collection, Pandora preferences, Hype Machine hearts, a Last.fm account, hundreds of jams, and countless other ways of trying to keep track of the music I like.
I am not alone in this. For all of us, lockers with “scan and match” represent the possibility of uniting, at the very least, all of our downloaded music files in one place, assuming we run it against all of our computers and hard drives — and it’s faster than uploading each song one at a time.
Why it doesn’t matter: Like Apple iCloud, Google Music doesn’t really support apps — meaning that developers can’t build apps that combine that music with other music. Also, neither is part of an unlimited music subscription, so although it unites your downloads into one music locker, you’re still sort of trapped with what you have, unless you want to purchase, pirate, or hunt down (on blogs) more tunes. This leaves us with (roughly speaking):
- Apple and Google can scan-and-match your library but can’t import that music into a cloud-based subscription.
- Spotify can import your downloads and even transfer them to certain devices, but they don’t get scanned-and-matched into your Spotify collection.
- Samsung Music Hub, not that you use it, can import your MP3s into a cloud-based music subscription that also has a radio feature, but there’s no scan-and-match, so it takes forever to upload everything.
- MOG can take a picture of your CDs, tapes, and records and add them to your MOG collection with a feature called Moggles, but I don’t think anybody uses that either.
- Regardless of what you use, your stuff will be all over the place, and there’s little you can do about it except for learn not to care.
Why can’t we have nice things — by which I mean why can’t we just, like, pay for music somehow and have it forever, rather than forever fretting about what we put in each walled garden? Really, what we need is “one big database,” or some other solution for tying music to people regardless of service or device. For more on that, see this recently-published DigitalMusic.org white paper (.pdf), which quotes this and mentions this, and perhaps check out the following articles:
- 4 Ways One Big Database Would Help Music Fans, Industry
- One Big Database Could Save the Music Business with Billions of Tiny Rivulets
- One Big Database Could Help Recording Artists Pay Rent
- Opinion: How ‘The Holy Grail – Universal Song ID’ Could Improve Facebook
If this gets figured out, here’s what it might look like for music fans:
1. Buy a song, like it, or collect it in a subscription-type environment.
2. Access the file, preference, or stream anywhere, forever, manually or through APIs.
3. That’s it.
Would you buy, like, and collect more music in a world like that? I know I would.