Amazon, the only place I know where you can buy a Papa Smurf decal bumper sticker and a $1 million certified diamond, has unexpectedly unveiled a cloud-based music locker this morning, offering account holders the ability to access their personal music collection from multiple computers and devices.
So how does it work? Well, anyone with an Amazon account can upload MP3s (both legal and illegal) to the Amazon Cloud Drive and stream them from any web-connected computer or device running Android software. You can even download any uploaded files, which includes photos, videos, documents, and whatever else. Amazon starts you off with 5GB of storage, but purchasing an MP3 album through Amazon will automatically get you another 20GB. (SPECIAL TMT TIP: Purchase Panda Bear’s “Last Night at the Jetty” single as an “album” for 99¢, and you’ll still get the extra 20GB.) You can buy more space for $1/1GB/year (e.g., a 500GB locker would cost you $500/year), and any purchases made through Amazon’s MP3 store will not count towards your space limitation.
I haven’t tested it out too much yet, but it took roughly 40mn to upload Thrill Jockey’s monster 64-track benefit compilation. Creating playlists and moving between songs was a breeze, and the MP3s were automatically organized based on their tags. I wouldn’t commit to purchasing a ton of space and moving my entire collection without checking out Google and Apple’s soon-to-be-released cloud services — and personally, I’m fine with what I currently use: Subsonic, an open-source alternative for people who don’t want to shell out money for cloud space, don’t have an immediate concern that their hard drive is going to crap out, and would rather wait for the cloud competition dust to settle. But hey, you probably already have an Amazon account, so it’s worth playing with the 5GB of free space.
Amazon’s announcement is especially surprising, because for over a year now, the race to the cloud has largely been seen as a competition between Apple and Google. But while Apple and Google are making their way through the legal jungle, Amazon — one of the first major retailers to strip their MP3s of DRM — has decided to once again curtail the demands of the major labels. “We don’t need a licence to store music,” said Craig Pape, Amazon director of music. “The functionality is the same as an external hard drive.”
Expect some grumbling soon.