July 13, 2011 - ModGuitar Senior Editor
The Silver Lining "Cloud" Music Services
Comparing Cloud based music streaming and download services.
All of these services offer viable access to your music on the cloud. Amazon and Apple’s services are the only ones that will allow you to back up your highest resolution audio files – albeit at a relatively step cost compared to local storage. Having the peace of mind knowing all your creations are safely stored off-site, as well as music on the go and at all your internet connected computers puts Music in the Cloud on our radar as a service we think you’ll find yourself using today and in the future.
Individual services at a glance
The popular Euro based Spotify has just launched its music streaming service in the U.S. Spotify free is an ad based music streaming service, with Unlimited ($4.99 monthly), and Premium ($9.99 monthly) plans which cut the ads and give you wider flexibility in where and how you can use the service. The Spotify player lets you play your local music files, but does not allow uploading of your music.
Apple found great success with it’s iTunes music store. On the horizon looms Apple’s latest service iCloud a cloud based storage service comparable to Amazon’s cloud drive. iCloud is geared toward Mac OSX users though Windows users will also b able to use iCloud via iTunes and Apple i-devices they may use. Much of iCloud’s services tie directly to the latest Lion Mac OSX version which will be released very soon. The $24.99 (yearly) iTunes Match part of iCloud will scan and match your music to the vast iTunes music catalog, find matches and add them to your iCloud library in the iTunes+ 256kbs AAC format. iCloud has a entry level free 5gb plan on sign-up, with additional storage options starting at $20/10gb (which seems quite steep). Since iCloud is hasn’t launched yet we can’t test it, but we trust Apple’s description of the service is spot on, and knowing Apple’s quality standards will likely work very well. If you’re a mac user or want your iTunes set-up matched on your iphone or via other computers you use with iTunes; iCloud might be a good option. The price is slightly higher than the competition, and the inability to simply stream your music from the internet on the fly (playback requires a download to your local device) limit some of the usefulness of iCloud. The 256kbs quality level is good enough to back up your own music, but not a lossless format. However none of the streaming services played nice with true native quality (aiff/Wave/lossless) file formats.