We were excited about the announcement from Amazon that they are offering 5GB of free storage for MP3 files and 20GB of free storage for anyone who is willing to buy an album from their music downloading service. So we immediately signed up, bought an album we were planning to get from iTunes, and tested it out. As of the writing of this post, our initial upload is still in progress. But it looks good so far.
While they launch this new service, the Amazon home page proudly invites customers to get started with the new online player. It includes three parts. The online storage called Cloud Drive, the Cloud Player, and for those who wish to store their already purchased music files, the Amazon MP3 Uploader which you download by clicking on the button in the player that reads “Upload to your Cloud Drive” in the upper left corner.
Amazon Cloud Player
The Amazon Cloud Player is little more than a listing of all your music files and playlists. Hover over one of them and a play button appears inviting you to stream that song from your storage space to your computer. In our initial test it began to play the song almost instantly on a fairly fast cable Internet connection.
Other options are to create or add files to playlists and downloading the files. Each file has a check box. Select all the files you wish to either download or add to a playlist. Once selected use the buttons in the upper right to download the file or add it to one of your playlists or a brand new one.
Along the left, all of your playlists are listed. Above them is the count of all of your Songs, Albums, Artists, Genres of music, and Deleted items. The amount of storage you have left for new songs is above that.
At the bottom on the left are the play controls. And the bottom of the window shows the progress of the current file.
If you want to delete a file, just select it and choose the delete button. Or you can click on the drop-down arrow that appears next to the file name when you hover over the file name in the song list. The options are to download the file, add to playlist or delete it. If you are playing a file and choose delete, it will continue to play the file even though it seems to have been deleted. However, if you play a playlist and delete it while it is playing it will stop playing. That’s odd.
Amazon MP3 Uploader
The upload process has gone well so far. The Amazon MP3 uploaded searched our hard drive for files that it could play. The vast majority of them were songs and files from the iTunes folder. About fifty percent of those files were purchased in iTunes and 336 of them were excluded due to the DRM that iTunes used to put in music. We never upgraded those DRM-laden music files when Apple was removed DRM on most of their library a few years ago.
The upload speed is fast. Over 8GB of files are about three-fourths of the way finished after less than 12 hours of uploading. That is faster than other cloud storage upload speeds we’ve tested.
Storage Limits and Cost
The initial backup said we were going to be 3GB over the 5GB upload limit. To fix that we bought an album in the Amazon MP3 music store. Instantly that album showed up in our storage locker and our cap was increased to 20GB for nothing extra. We received an email promising that the free 20GB cap was for one year, but one year only. At that time it will revert back to 5GB and we will have to upgrade for a fee. So unless you are willing to pay about $20/year after that first year, don’t get too comfy in the large online space.
You will notice from the chart above that the cost for extra storage is about $1/GB. You will also notice that Amazon shows that Photos and HD video can be uploaded as well. This is in addition to the storage needed to hold any music you buy from Amazon after you sign up. So, if you had 20GB of your own MP3s to upload, you could store more music so long as you buy it from Amazon.
Amazon Cloud Drive
To use the Cloud Drive for storing other kinds of files, go and upload it directly from the Cloud Drive page. While you can find free storage from services like DropBox, SugarSync, and Windows Live, this is the only one that offers the special music interface that lets you store and stream your music and increase your storage limit just by buying from the provider.
Video First Look
Amazon Cloud Player v. Apple’s MobileMe
Amazon has been offering online storage for a long time through their S3 service. But this new add-on focusing on music comes when Apple is rumored to be planning a similar service for iTunes. Should Apple choose to offer the service, there will be two such music locker options. If Apple’s is as good as Amazon’s, then there will be some good competition. That’s always good for consumers. If Apple does not offer this service at a competitive price, I can’t see myself buying another music file from iTunes.
Amazon and Music Labels
There are reports that Amazon jumped into this arena without asking permission from their record label partners. They are now apparently scrambling to get the rights to offer this service after it is already released. To be honest, we don’t think that they will without paying up. The music record labels are a greedy bunch. Mom said, “When it looks to good to be true, it probably is too good to be true!” We think this is awfully good in early tests. So, we also think the music moguls will torpedo it in the courts if Amazon doesn’t get their permission after the fact.
To get started head over to the Amazon Cloud Player page. We truly hope Amazon will succeed in getting the rights from music companies to continue this service.
Amazon Cloud Player and iOS
For users of iOS devices, the Cloud Player doesn’t work. I found a way to play the music files within Safari and show users how to do this over at our sister site Gottabemobile.com.