It looks like Amazon is not content being a strong third in the music content and delivery space. While Amazon’s cross-platform music service has been in place for years, Amazon has struggled to serve even 10% of the market.
With the recent announcement of their updated Cloud Player service, Amazon took a page right out of Apple’s iTunes Match book, enabling users to use their “scan and match technology” easily and quickly to get the majority of the tunes they already know automatically up in “the cloud.”
It works like this: Amazon scans all the music on your hard drive. When it detects a song that it already has in its massive library, it won’t upload the file; it instead places an existing, high quality (256kbpbs) file in your “Cloud Player” account for you to access on up to 10 devices. If a tune on your hard drive cannot be matched, it will be uploaded to your Cloud Player account (at, of course, the original quality of the file).
A full list of enhancements is available on Amazon’s Cloud Player web site, but here’s a brief overview of the changes beyond scan and match:
- Prior purchases of music from Amazon’s MP3 store will automatically appear in your Cloud Player. Oddly, there may be some tracks that need to be manually imported using their music import tool.
- Any tracks you’ve previously uploaded to your Cloud Drive (which remains but will be a separate product) will be automatically upgraded to 256kbps audio.
- Users will now be able to edit metatdata (information about the track, including title, artist, etc.) via the web.
- Ability to utilize the service from up to 10 authenticated devices, including PC, Mac, Kindle Fire, Android and iOS devices. There is unrestricted access via the web, but only from one web session at a time.
One significant improvement in Amazon’s strategy is their focus on the music-specific Cloud Player service. Prior, users would need to use Amazon’s Cloud Drive to store songs, as well as other digital assets — more akin to DropBox. In order to compete in music, Amazon seems to have realized that in digital music, services and apps need to be tightly defined.
With all of these changes, Amazon is clearly marketing this as an alternative to iTunes and not Google Play. While Cloud Player users get 250 matched and/or uploaded songs for free, there’s a $24.99/year service fee to go beyond 250 tracks and up to 250k tracks (all of these numbers exclude MP3s purchased on the Amazon MP3 store). The pricing and the scan-and-match technology appears to be identical to Apple’s offering, with the big delta being that iTunes Match has a limit of 25k in comparison to Amazon’s 250k maximum tracks stored.
Google’s Play cloud music service is taking a different route entirely, offering 20k track uploads for free, but not offering any scan-and-match services.