There are more ways than ever for Mac users to buy, manage, and listen to music. Not content to let Apple rule the music world with iTunes, Google and Amazon are vying for ways to get your money or get in your face with free services to compete with iTunes.
While it’s a mostly brain dead idea to stream music from the cloud to your iDevices or your Mac, storing music in the cloud has benefit. Use a web browser or Google’s free Music Manager app on your Mac to manage your music in the cloud. Amazon’s rudimentary Mac app doesn’t do much more than download.
Send In The Cloud Clowns
Why store your music in the cloud instead of just leaving it on your Mac? The cloud, whether Apple’s iCloud, Google Music, or Amazon Music, gives you a safe, inexpensive way to store music as a backup somewhere else besides your Mac.
That’s all well and good, but all three music vendors– Apple, Google, and Amazon– also want something in exchange for the privilege.
Money needs to change hands somewhere along the line. For Apple, iTunes is the store and the player and the manager.
For Amazon and Google you can visit their online music stores via a web browser. Compared to iTunes, the experience for both is slow and convoluted at best, downright sucky at worst.
That said, it works, but the overall searching, buying, downloading, and using process is anything but a pleasant time, especially when compared to Apple’s seamless experience in iTunes.
Amazon’s Cloud Drive lets you keep up to 5 gigabytes of storage (music, too) for free. When you buy music on Amazon there’s a one click option to store it on Cloud Drive, all using your Amazon account.
After that, like Apple’s iCloud, there’s a price. Google’s Music, on the other hand, lets you store 20,000 songs from your music collection (including iTunes) for free. Songs purchased from Google do not apply against the 20,000 limit.
The Google Music web site is easier to use and less complicated than Amazon’s music section, though both are very browser-like (as in cumbersome and messy). If you’d rather manage your music using an app, both Google and Amazon have free Mac apps.
Send In The Apps
The Google Music Manager app is really a Preference Pane in your Mac’s System Preferences. It logs in to your Google account and begins uploading music direct from iTunes on your Mac. Asking permission first would be a nice touch, Google.
From the Preference Pane you can sync specific playlists to Google Music. Options include Upload (playlists), Download (from Google’s cloud storage), and Advanced which allows for podcasts to be uploaded, and bandwidth options (it takes awhile, as in hours and hours, to upload thousands of songs, so your internet connection may slow to a crawl).
Google Music tracks are higher quality 320Kbps and there are plenty of free songs. While the app is simple enough to use, it only manages your music, and doesn’t double as a player.
A single Go To Google Music button opens a browser window to the Google Music Store. The app wouldn’t stop uploading my entire library and focus on the playlists I checked.
Amazon’s Music Store doesn’t fare much better. The Amazon MP3 Downloader app has two buttons. One to download music you’ve purchased on Amazon. And one to open a browser window to shop Amazon for music.
Music from either service can be imported into iTunes and synced with your iPhone or iPod. All three stores have an excellent selection of music, though iTunes is far easier and more convenient to buy, manage, and sync music.
What’s the compelling reason to use Amazon MP3 store or Google Music store? The selection may vary a bit, one store offering tracks not found in another. And price. Both stores appear to offer more songs and albums at a lower price than Apple’s iTunes. If you don’t mind the convoluting purchasing and downloading methodology, your iTunes collection can grow and save you some money in the process.
What about the cloud? It’s good for storage and not much else. Streaming music is a brain dead idea for non-Wi-Fi connected mobile devices. For now, neither Amazon nor Google offer a music searching, buying, and using experience on the Mac that seriously competes with iTunes.