Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tech Tuesday: Your Tracks To Go

I love listening to music and judging by the size of the industry, I'm going to guess you do too.

There are a lot of options out there for getting music and listening to music. Today I'm going to cover ways to access your own music library while on the go. There have been a few options out there for a while and there are a couple new (HUGE) players in the market. The following are the services that have stuck out for me along with some of their predecessors.

(Old) Simplify Media (Purchased by Google, May 2010)
Simplify Media was a service that you would run on your home computer that contained all your music. Using the same software on other desktops or using their software for the iPhone, you could stream your library anywhere you where! It was a great product and I used it a lot, that is until it was purchased by Google and eventually taken down. The thought at the time was that Google was going to be using this along with Android in some capacity, and a year later we had Google Music!

Google Music Beta
The Google Music Beta was launched after the May 2011 Google IO conference. Google Music moves your music library to "The Cloud". You run the software on your home computer and your computer will send all the music you have up to Google where you can stream it from your web browser from anywhere!

The interface on the web is pretty slick and is much like you would use on your desktop. You can search, create and play playlists, browse by album, artist, genre and even add some free songs from some select artists! The big limitation to Google Music Beta is that you are limited to only 20,000 songs. Wait, 20,000? Yep. That's a pretty huge number and I don't foresee many users having a problem with that. Oh yea, and this service is free but it's invite only for now.

Bonus! If you are an Android users (phone or tablet), the latest Music app by Google in the Market supports playing your music from the cloud on the go and even storing it locally for when you go offline!

(Old) LaLa (Purchased by Apple, Dec. 2009)
LaLa is another service that has come and gone. It was basically Google Music (your library, online) but combined with a music store. Unsuprisingly, this was purchased by Apple. Everyone was in the dark for quite soem time as to the motivation of this purchase, but Apple shed some light on it in June 2011 when it announced iTunes Match and the iCloud. If you're interested in seeing what LaLa was all about, here is an article reviewing their service http://reviewsofthingsihave.com/websites/lala-review-website-review-of-lalacom.html.

Apple iTunes Match and iCloud
June 2011, Apple Announced iCloud. This to be Apple's response to Amazon and Google's similar offerings. The service automatically has all songs you purchased in iTunes in the cloud already for you. If you have other songs on your computer, iTunes will try to identify these songs and automatically add them to your library. No uploading required (unless Apple doesn't recognize the song). Now, how do you play these songs? Well, on any device with iTunes (including iPod, iPhone, iPad) you just click a button to download the song you want and the song is downloaded and you can start playing. This differs from the other services in that it cannot be used from a web browser. Instead, you have to use their software to download the songs. So if you are at work, or on a friends computer, you won't have access.

This is also a paid service. iCloud will run you $25 annually. This isn't a terribly high price, but still more than Google.

Subsonic happens to be my favorite service so far. It's a free and Open Source application that you run on whatever computer has your music library. Subsonic will then turn your computer into your own, personal cloud! The software will let you navigate to your own address and see all your music and movies on your home computer and stream them right there, through your web browser from anywhere. Subsonic also has apps for both iPhone and Android. Subsonic doesn't require you to upload your music (or movies) to the cloud because it gets streamed from your computer straight to where you are playing it all on-demand. The software is pretty easy to set up and it should guide you through pretty well, and with a donation, you get the use of remote players (Android, iPhone and even Windows Phone) and you will get your own address like mymusic.subsoic.org to make it easy to find your music from anywhere! The donation is not recurring so it's only a one time donation of varying amounts that you can chose. For more information on their service you can check out http://Subsonic.org

Amazon Cloud Player
Amazon MP3 has been around for a while as Amazon's response to iTunes music store. They sell songs at prices that generally are cheaper than Apple as well as giving you suggestions of artists and albums you might like. Amazon built off of this service and beat both Google and Apple to the starting line in the Music Cloud business. Amazon's Cloud Player is very much like Google's service. You upload your music to the cloud and it is stored there for you to stream from your Amazon account from anywhere in the world through your web browser or from your phone. Amazon gives you 5GB of storage for free and has various plans for more storage. One other cool feature about Amazon though, is that any songs you buy from the MP3 store are automatically in your Cloud Player and don't take up any of your limited storage! This is fantastic because you can buy songs when you are away at work or at a friends place and listen to them right there in the web browser. Then, when you get home, you can download the songs and import them into your library.

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