Amazon updates Cloud Player service

Amazon has been busy this week, first announcing a new video service and now they announce changes to it’s cloud music service, called simply Cloud Player. This update has been much needed, especially with all the other music services vying for your attention, and money. There are a few improvements to the service itself, and also some changes to how your account works.First let’s talk about the changes to the player.

The first change is one that some people will love and others could care less about. That change is that all music in the Cloud Player will be upgraded to 256 Kbps. When talking about the quality of MP3’s it is usually referred to by the bitrate or Kbps that the file is. The bitrate measures how much digital information gets transmitted every second. For reference if you are listening to music directly from the CD, you are listening to it at a bitrate of 1,411 Kbps. That is more than 10 times the standard MP3 bitrate of 128 Kbps. Most people that listen to their MP3s would probably never notice the difference between 1,411 Kbps and 128 Kbps. The reason for this is that most people don’t have high enough quality devices that they are playing the MP3s on or the ability to hear the differences. You need both excellent hearing and a very nice set of speakers or headphones capable of accurately reproducing the sound that it is playing in order to be able to tell the difference. Because of this the change to 256 Kbps files looks real good on paper, but in reality most people would never have known the difference unless you told them it was different.

The second change to the player takes after iTunes Match. Rather than having to actually upload all your music, Amazon will match the songs to ones already on their servers. They have a catalog of over 20 million songs available, so chances are pretty good that all your music will be instantly available. This is actually great news for someone like me. I have tended to stay away from these cloud music services simply because I have so much music it would take me weeks to upload it all, all the while hogging my bandwidth. At last check I have over 20,000 songs in my iTunes library. I have been making all my music digital for over 15 years, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that I have that much music. If they had introduced this feature when they first released their player it might have gotten me to give it a little more time.

The other changes they made are to your Cloud Player account. Previously if you wanted to upload music you would do so to your Amazon Cloud Drive, and it would link to the player from there. They are now splitting out the Cloud Player storage from the Cloud Drive. While Amazon won’t do anything with the music you have already uploaded to the Drive, any future music uploaded to the Drive will not be available in the Player. There will be a limit of 250,000 songs that you can upload to your Player account for $25 a year. That $25 will also net you 50GB of Cloud Drive space, which isn’t a bad deal. If you currently have a free trial, your trial will end soon and Amazon is putting some limits in place for the free account. Here’s how it will work:

You’ve been enjoying a free promotional subscription to Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. After it ends, you will be limited to 250 imported songs in Cloud Player. Customers who are over that limit and close to expiration receive 30 days to test out our new features. Once you log in, you have 30 days to enjoy your music, everywhere. If you’d like to keep using Cloud Player for free, remove songs from your ‘Imported’ playlist until your library is below the 250 song limit before the 30 days are up. At the end of the 30-day free upgrade, if you have more than 250 imported songs in Cloud Player, you will not be able to play your previously imported music in Cloud Player – but you can start fresh and re-import up to 250 songs. Music you imported before July 24th will remain stored in Cloud Drive.

This is great news for people that are interested in Cloud Player or are already using it. However with all the great things Spotify is doing Amazon has no hope of getting me to try their service again.

[Amazon Cloud Player]
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Bryan Faulkner

Bryan Faulkner is a former associate editor at Pocketables. He loves to find new ways to use his tablets while working as the Tech Director at his local church. Mixing sound from the iPad is his newest obsession. He currently has a pair of HP TouchPads, an iPad 2, a decommissioned HTC EVO 4G, and a Samsung Galaxy Note II to tinker with.