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Sturm und Drang
November 17, 2011 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Google Music v iTunes Match v Amazon Cloud Player. Google has officially launched its (U.S. only) "Google Music" service, which aims to do for the Android market what iTunes and the recently unveiled (U.S. only) iTunes Match service does for Apple. All three services allow you to upload thousands of songs to the "Cloud". This music store showdown could revolutionise the way people collect, store and listen to music - or not.
posted by joannemullen (85 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I feel weird having all of my music solely in 'the cloud'. I'm still happy with having GBs and GBs of music. While I've used both Amazon and Google's offerings on occasion, I'm happy with the ability to make mix CDs for friends whenever I want, from music I--for the most part--already own, in whichever quality I want. Furthermore, streaming from the cloud is dependent on lackluster network data coverage, which kills me. If something utterly kills the experience, that might be it. Hopping on the subway? No coverage-->silence. Boo.

For the times that I want to a random track that I don't have, YouTube and Spotify have me covered. And for the other times that I do want to share things with friends, there's the very joyous combination of Dropbox and Spotify. So, so good.

The one upside to Amazon's service, though, is being able to take tracks that I bought late last year or early this year and load all of them onto my new machine or phone. That's really great. Unfortunately, there's also a bit of a disconnect as tracks that I've downloaded prior to the introduction of the service have a nice yellow marquee on Amazon's page saying "You've already bought this album on [[date here]]"... with no option to re-download stuff.
posted by raihan_ at 3:54 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you have an iPhone? Use iTunes Match.
Do you have an Android phone? Use Google Music.
Do you have a Kindle Fire? Use Amazon Cloud Player. (I guess???)
posted by smackfu at 3:56 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The fight here is between Google and Amazon for the scraps that iTMS is leaving on the table, in my opinion.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:56 PM on November 17, 2011


From the last article:

"Of course I would tape songs off the radio as a kid," he said. "It was a way to cheat the system. You grabbed it off the air. You captured it. And something about that process made music less ephemeral."

Ephemerality (or "specialness" or "uniqueness") is something that I find really interesting. It's a quality that you can't store or mass-create without removing it. Technology makes storage and repetition a lot easier, and that's great, but it also ruins a lot of moments, like when people take photos at a concert instead of dancing it because they want memories of that night when they didn't actually have fun. And it removes some of that magic of having an experience that's memorable and lasting and really difficult to find again.

This summer I bought the last ten books in a terrible YA series I read as a kid. Fun to see the story pick up like eleven-year-old Rory never left, but also disappointing and hollow, in a way. Of course it's not the same now.

But there are ways to create environments in which this one-time-only thing happens. Video games create environments wherein experiences can happen once and never again, yet the surrounding environ can be replayed over and over. Or you can create a deluge of new information that's impossible to keep all by heart. And that's the part of the contemporary music experience that I love: there's so much good that I can't give it all the time I want to. Which is great. Ultimately I have faint memories of a lot of songs I can't bother to find again, but if I think something really means something, I can keep it forever and always.

iCloud's a lot of fun for me and my family because we have a joint iTunes account, so now I have my dad's music and my younger brother's music. It's a new way for me to find music, and also to explore a (n insignificant) part of my family's lives. Cheap too!
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:57 PM on November 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


They should come up with an mp3 variant that automatically self destructs once a certain number of copies are made, then really cool underground music could disappear as soon as it got too popular.
posted by snofoam at 3:59 PM on November 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


I found the infoweek showdown piece very informative since I have over 40k titles.
posted by victors at 4:00 PM on November 17, 2011


infoweek link
posted by victors at 4:01 PM on November 17, 2011


That's a very helpful diagram, but the DRM line might be slightly misleading. The current incarnation of Apple's store/format may not prevent you from copying tracks to other devices, but they may still be placing your full name inside each file (go ahead, break out a hex editor). Maybe that's not "rights management" in the strictest sense, but the fact that they don't tell you about it, that most users don't know about it, and that it's done in a proprietary way (not in an ID3 tag, where you might notice it yourself) squicks me out a bit.

I don't know about the other stores because I've never bought from them, just a few purchases of FLAC directly from artists now and then (I'm not really an adopter yet, still a plastic disc dinosaur). I also can't confirm absolutely that Apple is doing that right-now-today because I haven't seen a friend's library in a while. But up until a couple months ago, they definitely were (noticed it while helping someone recover a failed drive).

Does anyone know if this still happens, or if other services do the same thing?
posted by trackofalljades at 4:01 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Related: Comparison of online music stores (Wikipedia list, not completely accurate or up-to-date: for example, Amazon and eMusic offer some MP3s encoded as LAME V0, which seems to be the preferred format for most people who keep track of such things).

From victors InfomationWeek link:
If you activate iTunes Match on an iOS device, be warned: It deletes all the locally stored music and replaces it with your iTunes Match library. Be sure to sync up your devices so you don't lose any locally purchased music.
Unsettling. I know cloud devices are supposed to be safe and whatnot, but I've experienced enough issues with service providers that it makes me uncomfortable to not have a local backup.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:05 PM on November 17, 2011


The fight here is between Google and Amazon for the scraps that iTMS is leaving on the table, in my opinion.

Google is fighting for whatever scraps Apple and Amazon leave behind. But Amazon shot themselves in the foot right out of the gate by locking down their cloud drive service. The majority of music fans have pretty much decided on iTMS. If Amazon hadn't locked things down, it would be easier to write applications to migrate existing music and other files up to one's data locker.

As it is now, you can only store and retrieve data that you've already bought from Amazon's mp3 store. At least, with iTunes Match, Apple doesn't care where the original music file came from. If you ripped it from somewhere else, then you can still get to it through iCloud. With Amazon and Google, you have to buy the music all over again, through each of their storefronts.

I get that Amazon wants to push Fire sales, no pun intended, but to the extent that the thing pretty much sells itself, it probably doesn't need the "help".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:06 PM on November 17, 2011


I've been on the Google Music Beta, and have so far uploaded about 10k songs - you definitely don't have to purchase through their storefront.
posted by pupdog at 4:11 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Both Ars Technica and Macworld have some good articles about exactly what iTunes Match does and how to get around some of its limitations, for those who care about that kind of thing.
posted by hippybear at 4:12 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fight here is between Google, Amazon and Apple for the scraps that the Pirate Bay is leaving on the table
FTFY.

---
But Amazon shot themselves in the foot right out of the gate by locking down their cloud drive service. The majority of music fans have pretty much decided on iTMS. If Amazon hadn't locked things down

That's not really "Locking down" so much as putting an ambiguous "Do not enter" sign on the door. The guy read one clause in Amazons TOS and decided not to continue with the project. How do you know I-Tunes doesn't have a similar clause? He didn't even say Amazon took any action, just that he read the clause and gave up.

And anyway, Cloud drive is just a consumer version of S3, which was built from the ground up as an API based system. In fact, Dropbox and Apple's cloud services are built on amazon using their APIs.
As it is now, you can only store and retrieve data that you've already bought from Amazon's mp3 store.
What the hell are you talking about? It says right on the front page of Amazon cloud drive's promo page:
Amazon Cloud Drive is your personal hard drive in the cloud. Store your music, videos, photos, and documents on Amazon's secure servers. All you need is a web browser to upload, download, and access your files from any computer. Get more details about using Cloud Drive
You can upload whatever you want. Where did you even come up with the idea that you couldn't? What an odd comment.
posted by delmoi at 4:14 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


WTF? You certainly do not have to rebuy your music for Amazon Cloud Player, and I'd be hugely surprised if it was the case for Google. A new low in FUD.
posted by kmz at 4:17 PM on November 17, 2011


You can upload anything you want to either Amazon's or Google's music servers.
posted by octothorpe at 4:17 PM on November 17, 2011


You can upload whatever you want.

Sorry, I wasn't clearer. I don't see myself uploading tens of thousands of songs through a web browser, and so I was looking forward to an API to do it. The point of an API is that you can upload what you want, the way that you want — just write a few scripts and you're done. So far, Amazon has locked that down.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:19 PM on November 17, 2011


As recently as the early 2000's, I would do a thing called "going to listen to music." I would grab a beer and go and sit in a room with my guitars and stereo and vinyl and cds and put on my headphones and listen to the albums I'd recently bought, studying the liner notes. It was a activity in of itself; I would do it exclusively, not while doing several other things. I'd been doing it since I was 8 years old or so, listening to the albums I bought with the $10 my dad would give me for cutting the lawn every weekend.
I feel like I hate every fucking song on my iPhone now. I put it on when I work out at the Y and I end up skipping the majority of songs.
The cloud is the opposite direction I'm going, music-wise. I just recently bought a new cartridge for my 29 year-old turntable after it was out of commission for a few years. I'm back in business and can't wait to dig into the wall of vinyl sitting here beside me.
posted by chococat at 4:20 PM on November 17, 2011 [19 favorites]


They have a software tool to let you upload large groups of files.
posted by delmoi at 4:22 PM on November 17, 2011


Indeed. Both Amazon and Google even have uploaders that will happily suck up everything you add to your iTunes library and sync it to their respective clouds automatically. (The larger amount of free storage makes this more practical for Google however - you can get 20GB free from Amazon by buying one album a year, even a 99 cent one, but who has a library that small?)

Besides the storage issue, I tend to prefer Google Music over Amazon because Amazon refuses to deal with the numerous CD length dance mixes I have floating around my library, due to their size... and those are exactly the sort of thing I'd rather stream than store locally. Admittedly, most people won't have too many >60-minute tracks, so this probably isn't a big deal.
posted by robt at 4:26 PM on November 17, 2011


This shit is going to ruin the only saving grace of awkward parties - that moment when you realize you don't know enough people in the room so you look at the hosts stuff to see if they like interesting books or movies or music, and then if you overlap then you have a conversation topic, but if not, you get that lightbulb that goes off where you say "I always wondered who in the hell could like [inexplicably popular thing] and now I know." Looking through a bookcase is always interesting, but scrolling through someones library is always utterly tedious; I don't need to know the name of every song on every album of every band they've ever halfway been curious about. What good does it do me to find out that they have a book I've always been curious about if I can't even flip through it?

Basically, the idea is the same as a food pill from the Jetsons, or a sex pill in Barbarella: let's take something that took time and space and effort and compact it all the way down to as miniscule an experience as we can without crushing it altogether, because that's utopia, right? Isn't utopia when we take all the most basic pleasures of life and compact them down to mere functionality? And make it harder to share them with people, and next to impossible to make them communal?

I'm not a luddite but this just doesn't appeal to me: I want to feel like I have some taste, and you get taste by building some sort of collection, and by picking which things represent you, but if everything ever made is in the same place all the time and you only own it in the most abstract sense of ownership (which is already a very abstract concept) then it can't mean anything to you. I like used stores because you don't always know what you'll find; you don't know how much it will be; there can be real surprises and rewards and it's a lot easier to feel like you're treating yourself (a feeling I sometimes enjoy) than it is when you get an mp3 (which is always the same price as every other mp3). I like having these relics in my house which remind me of times, and places, and people. I like being able to loan things out. But mostly I like that these things are part of my self definition - a record of the things I find interesting and compelling, things that when I die will be a pain in the ass to deal with, but a sentimental pain in the ass.

I love my Ipod, but I'm topped out. I'm done. This is as far as I am going to go down the digital music rabbithole.
posted by Kiablokirk at 4:27 PM on November 17, 2011 [24 favorites]


chococat: I'm right there with you. I tend to listen to my music mostly in album form, not in random tracks, and I deliberately select what I want to hear rather than let a computer choose for me. I still put on music and just sit and listen, although I tend not to do the headphone thing out of personal taste. I have a pretty good (far from audiophile) system set up in my living room, which is a tiny box and makes an excellent environment for playing music at a volume of 50 or above on my system.

I've also been getting more and more into things such as modern surround rips of old quadraphonic mixes of familiar albums. Or to listening to several "variations" on an album release -- vinyl vs CD vs remastered versions, etc. I enjoy hearing the differences, and it informs me in interesting ways about how the music is constructed vs what I've heard all this time. etc.

I know it's kind of not how things are heading right now, but I'm old enough that I don't care what the 20 year olds are doing with their tunes. Every once in a while I manage to find someone younger than me who "sparks" on music the same way I do, and I do my best to share what I know and learn what they know while I can. It's a great thing, to share actually listening to music with someone of a different generation. It's how I manage to keep vaguely current, although I'm miles away from being truly current in my listening habits.

Someday I'm going to get an upgrade/update to my turntable, and then I'll be digging into the enormous vinyl collection I have sitting dormant at the moment. For now, I have plenty to listen to, and lots more arriving regularly. I feel bad for people who don't grasp the album as an art concept, and even worse for people who only listen to artists who don't grasp the album. Devoting 30-60 minutes to a larger musical statement has been part of the listening experience for centuries, and aside from modern DJ sets, that really seems to have fallen by the wayside these days.
posted by hippybear at 4:29 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd be happy if Amazon would just let me point the cloud player at the 20 GB of music I'm already storing on S3.
posted by COD at 4:29 PM on November 17, 2011


The company that will win my loyalty is the one that can prevent their digital music from being played out loud on the bus.
posted by srboisvert at 4:31 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Besides the storage issue, I tend to prefer Google Music over Amazon because Amazon refuses to deal with the numerous CD length dance mixes I have floating around my library, due to their size... and those are exactly the sort of thing I'd rather stream than store locally. Admittedly, most people won't have too many >60-minute tracks, so this probably isn't a big deal.

There is a way around that. You can also upload arbitrary files to the cloud using their cloud drive interface, not the music interface. It allows the arbitrary uploading of any file. Even though it is larger than uploader will allow, it won't count against your total as long as it's an mp3. I had to do that for some William Basinski albums that I bought.....from Amazon.

It's slow though.
posted by zabuni at 4:33 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can upload anything you want to either Amazon's or Google's music servers.
posted by octothorpe


I just wonder if a bunch of music industry lawyers are watching the growth of cloud services and salivating at the chance to jump on a load of 'unlicenced content' in a few years time.
posted by Lanark at 4:33 PM on November 17, 2011


do you have more than 25,000 songs like everyone else in the world? then forget itunes match for your whole collection.
posted by Avenger50 at 4:38 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Most of the people in the world have 25,000 songs? That's like 1,500 CDs. Like everyone else in the world, I buy $200 of CDs with every paycheck, but it's still going to take me 10 more years to finish that collection.
posted by shii at 4:47 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kiablokirk, I agree. And speaking of "let's take something that took time and space and effort and compact it all the way down to as miniscule an experience as we can without crushing it altogether," did you see this?
posted by perhapses at 4:50 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've ripped every CD I've bought, have bought many albums and songs on iTMS and Amazon's MP3 store, and have "collected" MP3s for almost a decade and half, and I have exactly 10,819 songs. I think the 25,000 song limit for iTunes Match is very generous.
posted by zsazsa at 4:53 PM on November 17, 2011


> And each has undermined how much I actually care about watching, listening and reading those same bits of media.

I don't want to fall into easy nostalgia, but I really do wonder about this. My laptop contains more music than I'll ever be able to properly listen to (about 80 GB; peanuts compared to a lot of people) and yet, like chococat and Kiablokirk, I often find myself vaguely dissatisfied and frustrated by the experience of listening to my iPod (which seemed like a gift from the gods when I first bought one). Back when my tape collection fit into one of those drawers with the fake wooden paneling I spent entire evenings ranking them from #1-#36 (I even came up with a formula where each song was rated between 1-5 and uneven albums with a lot of 1s got bonus points so they'd have a leg up on albums that were all 3s; YES, I WAS A GEEK), but now that I can fit thousands of songs into my pocket each one of them is little more than a droplet in a...cloud.

I'm not saying the situation now is better or worse (and I sure as hell don't want to go back to tapes and Walkmans), but I do think the MP3 era has changed the nature of the relationship people have with music.

Related: "The Alchian-Allen Theorem has profound explanatory power when applied to the internet. The harder it is to gain access to cultural elements, the higher the quality of those elements will be consumed. On the flip side, if it is easy to access culture, people will prefer to consume shorter lower quality pieces of culture. In the middle ages, people had to travel long distances to view concerts, which were performed by live musicians. Thus, the fixed costs of consumption were very high. If you bothered to pay a huge amount of money and time, you might as well view a long complex opera or symphony."
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:53 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like everyone else in the world, I buy $200 of CDs with every paycheck, but it's still going to take me 10 more years to finish that collection.

Yeah.

Building use cases around people with over 25,000 songs and then saying one online music storage or the other is the best because of it is kind of absurd. The only people I've ever seen with that amount of music are people like DJs who can buy piles of records and write them off for taxes. Most radio stations have smaller collections than this.

Chances are, if you've got over 25k songs on your computer, then you didn't buy most of them.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 4:54 PM on November 17, 2011


Also, vinyl rools!!!
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:55 PM on November 17, 2011


I just wonder if a bunch of music industry lawyers are watching the growth of cloud services and salivating at the chance to jump on a load of 'unlicenced content' in a few years time.

No, Google and other big companies are covering their asses by using a company called Rightsflow.

How do I know this. They told us. 6 days ago.

We received a letter from Rightsflow telling us the following "You received this notice because we do not have a direct license agreement on file for you, and identified you as an owner or administrator of compositions embodied in sound recordings which will be incorporated in Google's new digital music service".

The funny thing is, we never signed up for Rightsflow. They're acting as an agent for people who want to cover songs. (and much more, look at website). In terms of copyright, they have become a game changer in many respects. They are the ones that clear the path for cloud based music services.

Other than PR releases, you really don't hear that much about Rightsflow in the mainstream media. It is a very big deal in regards to copyright.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 5:02 PM on November 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Counterintuitively, being a DJ has slowed down my acquisition.

I've found if I get too much music too quickly, I never really get to know the music I've gotten. And if you don't really know the music, you can't really play it properly.
posted by flaterik at 5:23 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The one thing I find interesting about Google's new service is the "Artist Hub". Drop $25 as a one time fee then manage your little storefront/landing page. Google will take a 30% cut, though, making it potentially the biggest indie label (de facto) in the world.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:26 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Basically, the idea is the same as a food pill from the Jetsons, or a sex pill in Barbarella: let's take something that took time and space and effort and compact it all the way down to as miniscule an experience as we can without crushing it altogether, because that's utopia, right?

I agree with this so hard I think I just came in my pants.
posted by mediareport at 5:31 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


30% cut

Hmmmm, where have I seen that amount of a cut before? I seem to remember lots of ill will towards a certain Cupertino-based company over such a UNHEARD OF HIGH NUMBER.

WHY DOES GOOGLE HATE ARTISTS?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:32 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could in-principle upload songs as quickly as your computer can read them into memory, Avenger50, because all cloud services use deduplication.

There is a small problem with deduplication that the music industry will eventually start suing cloud service providers to delete widely distributed songs.. or suing the songs listeners themselves.

There are hundreds of ways to roll your own cloud though, rsync and unison work great for your full copies, git-annex works nicely for smaller devices, etc.

There are many people I know with music collections that appear at least three times larger than mown collection, which makes 25k sound fairly moderate. There are a few rules for acquiring such ginormous collections : Avoid pop ear worm garbage. Find good new bands frequently. Torrent discographies. Trade collections with friends.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:34 PM on November 17, 2011


I also thought the Artist Hub was the most interesting part of their announcement. In effect they are trying to use the current model for app development on phones for music.

As for cloud-type music things, I really like subsonic. Stick the server on your computer at home (PC, Mac or Linux) then access all of your music through a web browser or an app for your mobile without any dependence on third parties and no storage limits (since it's sitting on your own computer). You need to donate €10 to use the mobile apps, but it's a one time thing.

With the mobile app you tell it how big a cache it can make. So you can, say, set aside an 8Gb cache and your phone always holds the last 8Gb of music you listened to. So most of the time you don't even need to hit the network. But if you really want to listen to that dodgy 80s song you haven't heard for ages, it's there seamlessly. You can also set different max bitrates depending on whether you are on mobile data or wifi and it will transcode on the fly. So I have no limit on wifi, but transcode when on mobile data to save my bandwidth cap.
posted by markr at 5:35 PM on November 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, and one nice thing about Google's service is that it doesn't care if a track is 30 seconds and 1 MB or three hours and 60 MB. One track is one track against your 20,000 limit. I have a ton of podcasts and lectures that I listen to on my commute (streamed via Bluetooth to my car stereo, even). For a free service, I have no complaints.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:36 PM on November 17, 2011


You don't need an Android phone to playback Google Music. There's an HTML5 music player page that works on the iPhone.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:36 PM on November 17, 2011


Nice to see you around again, Rory.
posted by Kwine at 5:36 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really, "torrent discographies" is how people get these insane numbers. "Oh, I like Prince, I'll just download his entire discography of 320 songs, it's only 2 GB or so." Disk space is cheap, internet is fast, who cares? And you're 1% closer to the limit.

I probably wouldn't turn around and complain to Apple about it though.
posted by smackfu at 5:39 PM on November 17, 2011


I might, however, complain to Prince about 'Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic' and 'New Power Soul.'
posted by box at 5:56 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


How do people with large amounts of pirated material feel about uploading that material to clouds controlled by the companies that are in the business of selling copyrighted materials? Suppose five years Google/Apple/Amazon decides to fingerprint your music library and cooperate with the RIAA? Am I missing something?
posted by rdr at 5:57 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a pretty extensive, legitimately purchased, collection that is pushing 20k songs. I'd never use a cloud service if it wasn't, because I'm paranoid like that.

It's twenty years of music collection and the fact that if you like classical music everything is multi-cd sets. If you want to listen to opera, each 'album' is at least three cds. And if you want to have multiple versions of the same opera, you end up obsessively buying Magic Flute productions until you really could stage a week-long festival of varying quality.

That isn't even getting into the Ring cycle madness.
posted by winna at 6:00 PM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really, "torrent discographies" is how people get these insane numbers.

Nah, you can do it quite legally through life-long collecting. I have over 5000 CDs and I'm still buying. But it's true, I have a lot of stuff on my HDDs that's not ripped from CDs, but torrented - though not discographies as such necessarily. A giant chunk is composed of concert bootlegs. If you collect an artist's output and they've been active for decades, you'll have a lot of concert bootlegs, as I have, of for example David Bowie. I don't happen to collect The Grateful Dead, but you can imagine how much of that stuff is floating around - if you follow a decent number of artists, it's easy to collect terabytes. Now, the question arises, when do you listen to it all? But you know what - you do, even if some of the stuff only once. But then, it's the ability to say to yourself "I want to hear David Bowie's Station to Station live from various points of 1976" and you find an interesting version from the Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands on May 13, 1976 concert. It's at your fingertips. And when your collection has that many bootlegs, demos and so forth, a matching service like iTunes Match is utterly useless. A serious collector will try to grab as much as possible in lossless, so that's another limitation.
posted by VikingSword at 6:01 PM on November 17, 2011


To put that in perspective, a collection of 5000 CDs means you've bought 3 CDs every week since the first CD was released in 1981.

That's a lot of CDs.
posted by smackfu at 6:09 PM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


The guy in the Tribune bemoans getting new mp3s and never listening to them. I've never had this happen; most of the time I keep iTunes running out of a smart playlist that selects for "music not played in the last week". And I have it running during most of the day.

So even if I forget about getting a new album... there it is, showing up in the random walk. (I also keep it on "shuffle by album".)
posted by egypturnash at 6:13 PM on November 17, 2011


For me, Google Music just won the war because it supports Ogg and Flac, filetypes that make up about a third of my collection. Amazon loses for me because they don't support those file types, nor do they populate my cloud with music I purchased from them before they created their cloud offering. And I've never liked iTunes, initially because of the whole DRM thing and then because I cut my digital listening teeth on Winamp and I've gotten used to that type of playlist generation.
Oddly enough Ogg and Flac support is a new thing for Google, it wasn't supported in the beta.
posted by Runes at 6:21 PM on November 17, 2011


To put that in perspective, a collection of 5000 CDs means you've bought 3 CDs every week since the first CD was released in 1981.

Yep, bought, like 95% of them (some were gifts etc.). Even more astonishing, in the past few years, I've slowed down my purchases dramatically - perhaps no more than about 50 CDs a year, so most of this was accumulated over maybe 25 years or so. And how about this: I spent a fortune on this - many CDs were either rare, from expensive publishers (hi there, BIS!), or imports... only now, I could have had a lot of it completely free through bittorrent... so, from that perspective, I've spent a ton of money for "nothing". Not that I regret it. What does give me pause though, is also the investment of time in accumulating such a collection - the tracking down of CDs, the wait, the curating, the storing... and today, with search engines and hard drives, I could have saved myself, years. That does sting a little.
posted by VikingSword at 6:22 PM on November 17, 2011


FLAC was supported in Google Music beta. I uploaded a ton.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:23 PM on November 17, 2011


And I have it running during most of the day.

Well, that's really the big thing, isn't it. If you listen to eight hours of music a day, you will probably listen to all your songs, no matter how big your library is. That's like 120 tracks per day. If you don't listen to music all day, and just listen for an hour or so every so often, these huge libraries just become pointless.
posted by smackfu at 6:23 PM on November 17, 2011


Dammit. Yet another "not available in your country".
posted by scruss at 6:29 PM on November 17, 2011


How do people with large amounts of pirated material feel about uploading that material to clouds controlled by the companies that are in the business of selling copyrighted materials? Suppose five years Google/Apple/Amazon decides to fingerprint your music library and cooperate with the RIAA? Am I missing something?

well if they did decide to do an about face and to rat out their customers, they'd lose all trust from consumers. Why would any half competent company want to do that?
posted by gyc at 6:32 PM on November 17, 2011


You've bought 5000 CDs, VikingSword? Good god, why?!? Isn't there something more useful you could do with that $75k? You could've hired some collage DJs to curate your collection part time had you simply torrented everything. Is all that rare stuff available via discography torrents now? I usually find new music through internet radio, which yields moderately esoteric stuff, and I've never not found a torrent, but maybe real music heads crave rarer stuff.

Imho, you should not upload pirated music collections to any cloud provides based in your own country, rdr, because those RIAA assholes spent years suing their fans. There might not be many countries where suing for possession will fly, but they'll try somewhere, better two legal systems between them and you. Tahoe-LAFS makes entering the cloud storage game almost trivial.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:32 PM on November 17, 2011


Serious though... What if the Internet goes away? Or the companies close? Or Someone censors the IP or you just can't pay anymore... I like hard copies for some stuff and I know some of these scenarios are unlikely BUT not the last one. If I have no money and I have LPs/CDs/Digital stored Copies backed up and I lose my ability to connect to the internet or use these amazing services I just don't buy music until I am back on my feet BUT if it is all "in the cloud" and I can't pay for a month or a year... what are my rights when I can pay again. I think it will revolutionize how we listen to music but no one ever has an answer for these things. Before someone says I could have a fire and lose those things that is true but I have insurance and that does not cover "I can't pay my subscription"
posted by mrgroweler at 6:37 PM on November 17, 2011


I joined the Google Music Beta five months ago, or so, and although I liked it at first, I got frustrated with how it read tags and saw songs as part of albums. It led me to yet another big tag cleaning and rewriting effort (using Helium) that I, of course, didn't complete and now my music collection is in some intermediate stage. Sigh.

Otherwise, I really liked that I could upload all of my (less than) 20,000 songs (I've got about 13K) and it recognized some non-MP3 formats. The interface was nice and I could easily see myself using Google Music when I was not at home and didn't have my (limited storage) iPod Touch, like perhaps staying with someone else out-of-town.

I'm trying to understand why Blazecock Pileon wrongly claims that Amazon and Google won't allow you to upload your own songs and that they don't have a non-web uploading app (or an API, which can and will be reverse engineered one way or another, anyway). If you don't know what you're talking about, don't.

BTW, I've never hated an application ever so much as I've long hated iTunes. I like my iPod Touch. I hate, hate, hate iTunes.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:38 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


At our house we've been looking for something like iTunes Match (the obvious choice for us since we're already in the Apple ecosystem) to regularize the joint library for years. We'd given up and gone back to maintaining separate libraries. I've spent the last couple of days de-duplicating and organizing and learning the ins and out of iTunes Match. I think for our purposes, it's going to work out pretty well: we can keep everything in the cloud and reserve local hard drive space for music we listen to regularly: he doesn't have to spend GB of drive space on my electronic music and I don't have to do the same for his trawls through archive.org for live shows by Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon. (If it doesn't belong on either hard drive, clearly it doesn't belong in the library at all.)

iTunes Match may also tie us more closely to buying in iTunes but Amazon's also doing cloud backups so it's not a huge advantage. The fact that we can download everything we buy again if we need to is useful as offsite disaster insurance.
posted by immlass at 6:40 PM on November 17, 2011


mrgroweler: "What if the Internet goes away? "

I can't speak for the others, but Google Music lets you download all of your purchased/freebie tracks to your PC(s) at home (though, sadly, it's not automatic -- the new Music Manager software has a "download purchased tracks" button that you have to push to initiate the download.) So, presumably, if you originally uploaded tracks from your PC to the cloud, and then download all the purchased-in-the-cloud tracks to the same PC, you end up with a mirror of everything in the cloud on your PC. Automating this auto-downloading of the purchased tracks, and adding the ability to customize the directory structure it creates to do so would basically close the loop for me (a) having all my music in a streamable cloud and (b) having all of those same tracks available locally in case the USS Google sinks, and so I can sync to non-Google devices (e.g. my car MP3 player.)
posted by tonycpsu at 6:43 PM on November 17, 2011


robt: "Admittedly, most people won't have too many >60-minute tracks, so this probably isn't a big deal."

I've got the 740 minute Autechre Livestream. Will Google let me put that one up?
posted by symbioid at 6:44 PM on November 17, 2011


Serious though... What if the Internet goes away? Or the companies close? Or Someone censors the IP or you just can't pay anymore... I like hard copies for some stuff and I know some of these scenarios are unlikely BUT not the last one.

There are suggestions upthread about how to transfer all the higher quality files into your library to replace the lower quality ones. Then all you do is drag the iTunes folder to one of the four backup portable hard drives you have and you're set.

I have two different backup drives for fear of one of them failing. I also save all the cds for the things that I really value, so I have three giant plastic tubs of cds, even though cds are not permanent media and eventually the cds themselves will fail, too.
posted by winna at 6:45 PM on November 17, 2011


symbioid: "I've got the 740 minute Autechre Livestream. Will Google let me put that one up?"

I believe there's a file size limit of ~250MB, at least for MP3s. I have a ~260MB dance mix that it rejected with a "File size exceeds server-specified maximum" error. Kind of a bummer, but whaddya gonna do.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:51 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I pretty much only listen to classic music via Groove Shark.

P.S. iTunes is bloated crap and I would never pay for anything on it. The markup on the price point is way too greedy.
posted by GavinR at 7:44 PM on November 17, 2011


That last link brought back happy memories, of taping music off the radio. Heck, I remember not having a linked turntable and cassette player/recorder, and taping music by putting a huge (yet for the era, portable) tape recorder next to the turntable speaker.

I suddenly feel very old.
posted by weirdoactor at 7:50 PM on November 17, 2011


Nah, you can do it quite legally through life-long collecting.

Yeah. I spent the 90s and most of the 2000's burning through my dotcom earnings with lots and lots and LOTS of music. I saved all the CDs. One summer I spent weeks ripping it all, and I now I have roughly 20,000 legitimately acquired tracks. It's kind of insane.

The interesting news is that iTunes "Match" seems to cover songs that it MATCHES, not songs that you UPLOAD because only you had that ridiculously obscure random mix from Prophecy of PANIC's limited-release sophomore CD that they only really sold out of their van that one time.

I'm double-checking, but if you include tracks that it MATCHED I'm well under the limit, if you include both uploaded and matched tracks, I've got a little less breathing room.
posted by verb at 8:56 PM on November 17, 2011


The interesting news is that iTunes "Match" seems to cover songs that it MATCHES, not songs that you UPLOAD because only you had that ridiculously obscure random mix from Prophecy of PANIC's limited-release sophomore CD that they only really sold out of their van that one time.

No, iTunes Match counts any track you did not purchase from iTunes against your limit. Any songs you purchase through iTunes will be part of your Match library, but will not count against that 25,000 track total limit.
posted by hippybear at 9:09 PM on November 17, 2011


Also to clarify further, iTunes Match will match songs which are not carried in the iTunes Music Store, because Apple has different agreements with companies for its Match service and its Music Store. The example I saw was that AC/DC songs can be matched if you have them in your library, but not purchased because they aren't in the Music Store.
posted by hippybear at 9:12 PM on November 17, 2011


smackfu > these huge libraries just become pointless

That's the irony, too. I have this method for ensuring I keep my collection relatively fresh, and the time to do it.

And yet my collection is tiny by modern standards - only 13138 items. This is not due to me being frugal with my drive space, nor is it due to me being entirely legal - it's just due to me being kinda picky about what I listen to, and not prone to go out hunting for new music on a regular basis.
posted by egypturnash at 9:22 PM on November 17, 2011


I'm in the 5,000 CD club as well (or suspect I am anyway...I'm a little behind in my cataloging). Maybe a third to a half of that again in vinyl. It's slowed down a little over the past few years as I'm saner than I used to be. But man, the early '90s? Holy shit.

I understand some of the appeal of dumping everything to the cloud but I'm not in the target market for it. The idea of having my entire collection at my fingertips anywhere I go is attractive, but the idea of paying cellular data rates to listen to it definitely isn't.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that if I iTunes Matched my rip of Who's Next, I would not be getting the Hoffman version back when I streamed it. I'd rather listen to an MP3 of a well-mastered CD than a FLAC from a poorly-mastered one, and mastering is a complete fucking crapshoot when you're buying mass-market digital downloads.
posted by Lazlo at 11:42 PM on November 17, 2011


I've got the 740 minute Autechre Livestream.

Dude, hook it up.
posted by afx114 at 12:00 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


snofoam: "They should come up with an mp3 variant that automatically self destructs once a certain number of copies are made, then really cool underground music could disappear as soon as it got too popular."

I'd be much more interested in a format that degraded over time, and with each copy made.

Avenger50: "do you have more than 25,000 songs like everyone else in the world? then forget itunes match for your whole collection."

Yeah, I laughed when I saw that - I have more than double that and haven't made a dent on digitising my CDs, let alone torrenting or ripping my vinyl - but most people just aren't that into collecting music. A quick search suggests the average music library is somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000 songs (which actually seems high to me - I'd love for Apple to release some stats on that).

smackfu: " If you don't listen to music all day, and just listen for an hour or so every so often, these huge libraries just become pointless."

That's not true if you like lots of different kinds of music. There's no way I want to listen to, say, free jazz all day every day, but when the mood strikes it's nice to be able to choose from a broad selection rather than falling back on the same compilation album every time.
posted by jack_mo at 2:06 AM on November 18, 2011


I actually stopped "collecting" music a long time ago - because I was collecting it, not listening to and loving it. For a while I couldn't stand the idea of removing anything from my collection, but then it became obvious than unless it was something weird and rare, I could always get it again. I "only" have about 8000 things in my collection now. But that's something like a month and a half of music.

I don't doubt that those of you who have stuck to collecting love your music, but wow are we ever different!
posted by flaterik at 3:05 AM on November 18, 2011


do you have more than 25,000 songs like everyone else in the world? then forget itunes match for your whole collection.

Wait-WHAT? And jack_mo, you have DOUBLE that?

I'm with flaterik: there's little or no need to "collect" music any longer. I used to collect movies on video, and easily had 20X as much as the average person, but have since learned that there's no longer a need. Turns out, all of these movies are "more available than ever," for all intents and purposes.

I used to think I had pretty unique or esoteric taste in music and movies, but I honestly can't remember the last time a particular piece of work wasn't a few (occasionally less-than-legal) clicks away.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:50 AM on November 18, 2011


That said, the music I listen to and love, I want copies of, backed up to multiple places. It's not always easy to remember the weird crap I ended up loving. But collecting for the sake of collecting dulled my enjoyment of each piece, so I... stopped.
posted by flaterik at 3:54 AM on November 18, 2011


ShutterBun: "I used to think I had pretty unique or esoteric taste in music and movies, but I honestly can't remember the last time a particular piece of work wasn't a few (occasionally less-than-legal) clicks away."

See, I don't find this to be the case at all - 'everything' is supposed to be out there on the web, Usenet, &c., but whenever I buy vinyl I like to 'illegally' download it so I can listen to it on the go as well as at home, but more than half the time it's nowhere to be found. (Admittedly, I haven't been a member of a fancy private tracker since the demise of OiNK - perhaps if I was on what.cd or whatever the new hotness is I'd have more luck, but I seriously can't face sitting an exam to join a website!)
posted by jack_mo at 5:20 AM on November 18, 2011


flaterik: "I actually stopped "collecting" music a long time ago - because I was collecting it, not listening to and loving it."

Yeah, I knocked the whole 'Ooh, I really must buy this so I have the complete discography/label output/original pressing/exclusive Japanese b-side' thing on the head a long time ago. Huge waste of time and money, and doesn't really have anything to do with music.
posted by jack_mo at 5:25 AM on November 18, 2011


"No one will ever need more than 640 25k."
- Bill Gates Impersonator
posted by blue_beetle at 5:40 AM on November 18, 2011


As for cloud-type music things, I really like subsonic.

This is what I came here to say. Love subsonic.

I tried the Google Music thing when it was in beta, and my issue was with the google music clients on Android and on the computer. I found them to be awful and frustrating to use. So I gave up on them, and went back to Subsonic.
posted by inigo2 at 5:46 AM on November 18, 2011


You've bought 5000 CDs, VikingSword? Good god, why?!? Isn't there something more useful you could do with that $75k?

That's under 5 bucks of '12 For a Penny' Columbia House deals. Sure, it sucks to have a few hundred copies of U2's Pop, but at least they make for a unique coffee table.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:55 AM on November 18, 2011


Threeway Handshake: "Hmmmm, where have I seen that amount of a cut before? I seem to remember lots of ill will towards a certain Cupertino-based company over such a UNHEARD OF HIGH NUMBER. "

FWIW, Apple takes 35%. If you're signed to a label, the label takes another 50-65%.

Selling your music as an independent artist on Google ain't a terrible deal, when you consider what they're providing.
posted by schmod at 6:19 AM on November 18, 2011


As recently as the early 2000's, I would do a thing called "going to listen to music." I would grab a beer and go and sit in a room with my guitars and stereo and vinyl and cds and put on my headphones and listen to the albums I'd recently bought, studying the liner notes. It was a activity in of itself; I would do it exclusively, not while doing several other things. I'd been doing it since I was 8 years old or so, listening to the albums I bought with the $10 my dad would give me for cutting the lawn every weekend.

This is by far my favourite way of enjoying music, too. I'll often do other things at the same time, like drive or read, but enjoying a whole album is my focus.
When MP3s first came around I remember the giddiness of individual songs, but now I am back to finding complete albums the most satisfying. I want something I can listen to from start to finish and enjoy as a whole, not just jump in to my "favourites" playlist.

I technically do have all of my albums on the cloud, backed up via Crashplan. And if I really need my massive archive via my phone, there's my subsonic server.
I'll check in on these services periodically, I suppose. If they have an interface that lets me know how much of my massive collection is already on the cloud, I suppose I'd get involved if at least 70% of my large experimental/electro-acoustic/noise collection is already there, because I certainly don't want to upload it all myself.
posted by Theta States at 7:48 AM on November 18, 2011


That isn't even getting into the Ring cycle madness.

Classical Music does box sets RIGHT.
Chopin? 17 discs.
Stravinsky? 22.
Haydn's symphonies? 33 CDs.
Beethoven? 87 CDs box.
Yo-Yo Ma? 90 CD retrospective.
Bach? 172 CD collection.
Mozart? 180!

It will quite literally take much of my adult life to absorb that content alone. And that is awesome.


I'm in the 5000+ album club (as well, all legitimately purchased at the tail-end of the dot-com bubble), and so I am only intersted in unlimited storage. Flac + Ogg a necessity as well.
I miss the fervent curation I could apply to my collection, the obsessive paring the shelves like a bonsai plant. But hey, now I also have easy access to 600 discs of classical music history in a flash...
I'm nostalgic, but not regretful.

But that does remind me, I should spend the weekend hopping through my albums collection with my finger heavy on that delete key...
posted by Theta States at 8:08 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


well if they did decide to do an about face and to rat out their customers, they'd lose all trust from consumers. Why would any half competent company want to do that?

Because it's cheaper than defending themselves from a massive copyright lawsuit, and Google's "Do no evil" policy is a thin enough veneer over its bottom line that you can scratch it off with your fingernail (and that's still WAY ahead of Apple and Amazon)?
posted by Mayor West at 8:10 AM on November 18, 2011


It boggles the mind why anyone would own 25,000 songs. When I feel the need to hear music, I just listen to "Hey Soul Sister" again and I am satisfied.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:09 AM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


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