Amazon Music v. Apple Music

Apple’s iTunes is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the music world, but I’m starting to wonder if Amazon isn’t going to dethrone Apple as the #1 music provider someday.

Apple, Amazon and Google all came out with cloud music sites last year and I put my 20,000 songs on each site.  I’ve ended up using the Amazon Cloud Player the most.  Google and Amazon have web based players.  Apple requires an iTunes  install.  That meant I couldn’t play tunes from my Apple Music Match library on my Linux machines.

amazon_cloud_player

iTunes always played my music best on my iPod touch and iPad, that was until the Amazon Cloud Player app came out.

Now Amazon has done something even more marvelous, it created an Amazon Cloud Player station for my Roku TV box.  Since my TV is hooked up to my stereo receiver and big speakers, playing music through my Roku really showcases those MP3 files.  My music sounds great!  And Amazon has started matching music like Apple.  Plus Amazon does a far better job than iTunes at finding cover art.

Even more enticing to keep my business, I got an email from Amazon a couple weeks ago telling me that 56 CDs I had bought since the 1998 qualified for their new free ripping service called AutoRip and those songs were added to my permanent library at Amazon.  If I stop paying the yearly fee for my cloud drive at Amazon, my uploaded/matched songs will disappear, but not those 56 CDs and the MP3s I’ve bought from Amazon.  I’ve bought many more CDs than 56, so I’m wondering if more CDs will qualify in the future for AutoRip.  I have a friend who got 200+ AutoRip CDs from Amazon the same day.

Buying a CD now from Amazon might get customers the MP3 album if it qualifies for AutoRip.  Wouldn’t it be great if customers got both formats whenever they purchased an album?  Maybe that will happen with DVDs too.  It would be so far out if Amazon sent me an email telling me that the TV shows and movies I’ve bought on Blu-ray and DVD qualified for AutoRip too?

Now that’s competing!  It’s awful nice having the company you buy media from also be your media librarian.  Amazon now manages my music, ebooks and audiobooks.  Why not movies and television shows in the future.  I already have a small library of digital TV shows that I bought as Amazon Instant Videos.

I can’t help but wonder what Apple will do now.  I let my Apple Music Match library renewal lapse this week, and I’ve stopped maintaining my Google Music library.  Amazon is now my music vender and librarian.

On my Roku, iPod touch and iPad I have millions of albums I’m renting from Rdio, and over a thousand albums I own playable through the Amazon Cloud Player.  The next logical step would be for Amazon to buy Rdio, or similar music streaming service and fix things so I only have only one library of music, with one set of playlists.  Wouldn’t that be amazing!  That’s the Holy Grail of digital music for me – all my available music, either owned or rented in one system, playable on all my computers and devices.

Now if Amazon would only make the Amazon Cloud Player more sophisticated.  But I expect they will.  I expect this trend in music to keep evolving.  The battle is between what Amazon and Apple can do for us.  Is anyone else really competing?

JWH – 2/4/13

Why We Can’t Trust Subscription Music Services Like Rdio, Rhapsody, Spotify, MOG, etc.

In the post-CD world of music, the challenge is to keep our favorite songs forever even though we have nothing physical to hold and protect.  If your computer crashes or you lose your smart phone, can you recover all your favorite songs you’ve bought over the years?  (Or stolen.)

Digital music is in a total state of chaos.  I have songs in Windows Media Play, iTunes, Google Music, Amazon Cloud Player, iTunes Music Match and I have rights to listen to albums in Rdio, Rhapsody and Spotify, plus I own about 1500+ CDs.  No one site can play all the songs.

My favorite way to listen to music is via Rdio.  Rdio plays on all my computers at home and work.  It plays on my iPod touch, iPad 2, and it plays on my TV/stereo through a Roku box.  However, it doesn’t play all the albums I own, nor out-of-print albums, but it does play millions and millions of songs, so for 90% of what I want it’s excellent.  However, for those favorite songs it doesn’t have, it ruins the whole concept of subscription music.

For example, one of my favorite albums is No Guru No Method No Teacher by Van Morrison.  It’s now out-of-print, and I recently discovered that  when the song “Thanks for the Information” disappeared from my Songs Rated 10 playlist.  I thought I had it on CD, but evidently not.  I did have it on LP, but I got rid of my LPs years ago.

I probably didn’t get it on CD because it was on Rhapsody and Rdio and I got used to it being there, and thought it would always be there.  I was wrong, it’s been pulled.  I just ordered a used copy on Amazon for $10.25 + $2.98 shipping.  I’m sure I could have gone and found a stolen copy, but I’m not into that.  Once I get it I can rip it and put the songs on Amazon and Google.  I’m not renewing iTunes Music Match.

The problem is my favorite way to play my favorite songs is via playlists on Rdio.  Over time some songs disappear from subscription music services because the album goes out-of-print.  I HATE THAT!  I’ve been trusting subscription music services for years, and slowly it’s becoming obvious that if you really love a song and want to play it for the rest of your life you have to buy it.

But buying digital songs is iffy.  I’m trusting Amazon to always preserve the songs I buy from them – but what if Amazon goes out of business or gives up on Amazon Cloud Player?  How long will Amazon, iTunes and Google back up music if you buy it from them?  And what if they don’t sell the songs you want?

I should consider the CD as my master copy for life, but the CD format might not last that much longer.  Is the MP3 any kind of real archival medium?

Because music goes out-of-print and gets removed from Rdio and Rhapsody I’m going to have to change the way I listen to music.   I might need to move my playlists to Amazon Cloud Player (and maybe Google Music) and then use Rdio and Rhapsody as tools to discover music.  When I find a great song I want to listen to the rest of my life, I’m going to have to buy it and put it on Amazon Cloud Player.  I’m paying Amazon $20 a year to store the 20,000 songs I own so I can play them from all my computers and mobile devices.

Or I could stick with Rdio and just let out-of-print songs become forgotten songs.  I wish there was a way to upload out-of-print songs I own to Rdio so I could keep all my songs in one library.  Rdio is far superior to Amazon Cloud Player for managing playlists.  I can’t even find a way to delete a playlist on Amazon Cloud Player.

Why can’t I have all my music in one place where I can play it from all my devices?  Life was so much simpler when I had LPs and all the music I owned was on one bookshelf.  But back in those nostalgic times, I could only play that music in one place.  Now I can play my music anywhere, if I can keep up with all my song files.

JWH – 10/28/12

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