Mar 312011

So with this week’s slightly unexpected launch of Amazon’s cloud storage and cloud music player, you’ve started to think about the possibilities and conveniences of a cloud stored music library.  It definitely has some worthwhile advantages:

  • Online/offsite backup of your music library
  • Easy access to your music anywhere
  • Save space on your phone by not storing a copy on device

It was probably less surprising that Amazon’s Cloud Player doesn’t really work with iOS devices.  There’s a workaround, described here, but it’s clunky at best.

Apple’s iTunes Locker / MobileMe revamp has been rumored to be coming for quite some time, but it’s yet to materialize.  Signs seem to point to it being caught in limbo as negotiations with the big music labels are holding it back, a step it seems Amazon chose to skip, much to the labels chagrin.  So while we wait for an Apple solution that may or may not come, what can an iPhone user turn to in the mean time?

It may surprise you that Apple already has rudimentary support for this type of cloud music storage.  Of course, this option requires a MobileMe subscription, which currently goes for $99 a year — there’s a 60 day free trial if you want to give it a test drive.  You get 20GB of storage, along with other features like email, calendar, contacts and a photo gallery.  The “iDisk” cloud storage works like many others and has the advantage of a universal iOS app.  An undocumented feature of the iDisk app is that it will stream music files from your iDisk, and even continues streaming music when in the background.  While it doesn’t load any meta data or album artwork and doesn’t seem to support playlists, it does actually work in a very basic way, today.  You can even share files using iDisk…but don’t tell the music labels that.

Dropbox works in a similar fashion to iDisk in the way it handles music, and offers 2GB for free, with a universal iOS app.

Of course, those are services that aren’t really optimized for streaming music.  That’s where long-time players mSpot and MP3Tunes come into play.  mSpot, in direct response to Amazon, recently announced they would be increasing their free account storage limit to 5GB.  This was a smart move by mSpot, since it has the advantage of being iOS compatible (through a universal app) right away.  With new found interest in cloud music storage being spurred on by Amazon, potential customers may look for more compatible options since being locked out by Amazon.  Also available is MP3tunes, which offers 2GB of storage for free and also has an iPhone app.  Each of these services has an application that you load on your PC or Mac, which monitors your music library and automatically uploads new tracks to your music locker, keeping your local and cloud libraries in sync.

All the services mentioned here have some sort of free or trial subscription so that you can test drive them to figure what best suits your needs. Who knows, they may even end up being better than an official Apple solution, whenever it arrives.