The recent trend toward cloud music has several benefits. Putting your music in “the cloud” can ease synching music across many devices, provide backup in case of computer disaster, offer social tools to share your musical tastes, introduce you to new music, and allow you to stream music on devices that do not have enough memory space to hold a large music collection. Most cloud services do not offer all these benefits, but there is a large selection of both free and inexpensive cloud offerings to choose from. And no one says you have to choose just one. Sometimes the best solution involves two or three different music cloud services.
Amazon: Cloud Drive and Cloud Player
Although this Cloud Player promo looks like you need to pay for music storage, this is only true if you need more than 5GB of space (excluding music purchased from Amazon, because these are stored for free.) If you are willing to pay for space, however, the $20/year offer is quite attractive, because it provides an unlimited amount of music storage. Either way, Amazon Cloud Player offers streaming and download across many devices (so you can maximize precious storage space on mobile devices) and take advantage of WiFi connections to play music on a variety of devices. Keep in mind that iTunes songs with DRM cannot be stored in the Amazon Cloud Drive.
For Apple iTunes users and those who buy most of their music from iTunes, the free Apple iCloud is an obvious choice. Unfortunately, not all mobile devices (such as Android phones or Amazon Fire Kindles) run iTunes. For these devices, however, there are a variety of third-party apps that can solve this problem. For music you haven’t purchased from iTunes, Apple offers iTunes Match ($24.99 per year). The unique benefit of Match is that if iTunes recognizes your song (by matching it to one in its huge music inventory) you do not have to upload it to iCloud, saving you lots of time.
Although Google doesn’t have a music store like Apple or Amazon, it offers a whopper of a good deal when it comes to storage: Keep up to 20,000 songs in Google Play for free. After uploading, you can access your music via either downloading or streaming. For offline listening, Google uses a green pin icon to indicate that a particular track has been downloaded or pinned. As with all non-Apple services, iTunes songs with DRM cannot be uploaded to the Google cloud.
Recently purchased by Samsung, mSpot offers 5gb of free music storage and support for one mobile device. A 40gb plan (including support for five mobile devices) costs $3.99 per month. In addition to music storage, device synching, and music streaming, mSpot offers music discovery radio and lyrics.
Although Spotify is usually thought of as a social music app, it also offers the ability to combine your music library with its own. If any of your tracks or albums are already in Spotify, with a single click, you’ll have access to Spotify extras such as artist info and ease of social sharing. Desktop features are free for everyone, but some of Spotify’s best mobile features, such as WiFi synching to your phone, are reserved for Premium members, which costs $9.99 a month.