I’ve been on a quest lately. To find the perfect music cloud player. Whether it’s subscription or streaming via storage of tracks I own. So far, honestly, nothing really measures up.
I’m not sure what the issue is. I don’t understand why no one has gotten this right. The big players for me are Apple, Amazon, Google, Rdio, and Spotify. I know there are others, but my process takes time, and so far these are the best ones I’ve found. Even though none of them have a great solution.
The two subscriptions I “like” are Rdio and Spotify. The problem is, each has its shortcomings.
Where Spotify has a great deal of music, almost everything I could want, its apps are kind of annoying. The fact that everything has to be stuck in playlists just sucks. I can’t handle the fact that I have to create a playlist for every artist I want to listen to, stick all their songs in it, and then go to the next artist and do the same. This results in hundreds of playlists. These are NOT playlists, these are albums, by artists, in a collection…a library. Playlists to me are “mixes”, and I love doing that as well. Unfortunately with Spotify this all gets grouped together. There needs to be a better organization to the music I want to save to listen to, especially on mobile. I should be able to go to a collection/library of all the artists or albums I have “added” there, and scroll through or filter to the one I want, almost like their desktop app (but better). My playlists would then be what playlists should be, a mix of songs for a mood, moment, etc.
With Rdio, you get the above “collection” or library, and it works great. Between its playlists and collection, things are sorted and handled very very well. Rdio has the downside that there is no real free option (a week trial). While I am not suggesting that it SHOULD be 100% free, it’s hard to be “social” with friends on a service they are not on, if the option to send them a song to listen to isn’t actually there…and a clip doesn’t count. At least with Spotify I can do this, and that’s Rdio’s downfall for social. However, they also do have the ability to add feedback to artists/albums right on their pages. These is very nice I have to say. Yet, as soon as I think Rdio is the way to go, I find their catalog is missing key pieces for me. Not just some obscure artists, but even Pearl Jam’s latest album Backspacer isn’t available…yet Spotify has it. So these two issues sort of make it hard to go with Rdio.
Matching and Cloud Storage
As I said, the biggest players here are Apple, Amazon, and Google. But until Google offers the same “scan and match” that Amazon and Apple do, for people with crazy large collections (like me) this is a no-go.
Many of us, myself included, have been buying music through iTunes for years, and even the songs we ripped from CD are stored there on the desktop/laptop. So when iTunes Match was announced and said to take all that, scan it, match it, and make it available to all your devices, well I thought it was a dream. Sadly, it was not. It was more of a nightmare. The matching didn’t go well, the uploading didn’t go well, and when it finished album artwork was a mess, and my iPhone hated me. The service is also not a true streaming service, yet (supposed to come soon), and has no app for other platforms, no web app, and is completely insane in the way it is handled through the iOS Music app in general. Why can’t I have two sections of music–Device and iCloud? Use a nice little tab to switch between the two, so I don’t have to constantly scroll through 18,000 iTunes Match tracks in the list. Come on.
Amazon on the other hand, also uses the scan it and match it now, which works decent, not great, but decent. The problem is, they’re missing key apps…like a desktop app and iPad app. Sure, I can access through the browser, which is great at work or a friends house. But at home, I want an Amazon Cloud Player app like they have an Amazon Kindle app for desktop. Also, using this on the iPad, with the iPhone app scaled up or via Safari, is well, ludicrous. What a waste. Their Cloud Player for the browser on a desktop or laptop works well enough, for say my work computer, but at home I want a real application. I love their iPhone app. It works great, and works exactly how I think Apple’s iOS Music app should work with iCloud. However, Amazon too is missing key components I mentioned above, and I just can’t do it.
In the end, there just seems to be no one willing to go “all the way” with this. To me, this is a huge deal, as music is an enormous part of my day, and my life. I’d love to go all in on one of these services, and personally would like it to be with Apple, but they have iTunes Match all screwed up. Amazon would be my second choice, but again, they’re lacking the apps across the board (which is odd for their “everywhere” philosophy). If I had to pick between Rdio and Spotify based on music, I’d go Spotify…however, based on user interface and ease, I’d pick Rdio. See, it’s such a mess.
Please, I beg of all these companies, to get it together. This is a huge deal, not just to me, but to many many many people. It shouldn’t be this hard. What are your experiences? What are you using for music “in the cloud”?