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Ant Pruitt: Amazon Cloud Player, Google Play Music, and Spotify Compared (review)

As a music geek, music is key to me.  I have to have some tunes with me for most of my waking hours each day. Whether it’s writing for aNewDomain.net, building a PC or even just cooking dinner, music moves me in ways that only true music lovers can understand.

So I took a look at what’s out there for fellow music lovers.  Here’s how Google Play Music and Amazon’s Cloud Player compare. Here I am focusing on relative features, limitations and applicable costs. I’ll be updating this in coming days.

The Amazon Cloud Player is a free service that lets you purchase your music from the Amazon ecosystem and play it anywhere there’s an Internet connection and the installed app. The app is compatible with Android devices including the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.

The app is not compatible on iOS devices, but the Safari web browser on Apple iOS does support the Amazon Cloud Player web interface.

Considering Apple doesn’t play well with the Amazon book store, the lack of Apple iOS app support isn’t surprising. Using the cloud player requires either that you uploadyour existing library to the Amazon servers or purchasing music from Amazon. Amazon gives you 5GB free for your music. This isn’t a lot of storage capacity for most users, so Amazon offers a $20 per year storage plan which includes 20GB of storage.

Its largest capacity is 50GB for $50 annually. Amazon offers promotions for storage in which buying songs and albums from the service does not count towards your storage capacity.

The web interface is a simple UI allowing you to browse by genre, artist, songs and albums. As a part of the Amazon.com ecosystem, you’re able to see recently purchased songs, too, as opposed to just the songs you’ve uploaded.

Amazon Cloud Player Web UI

Amazon is well known for the merchandise it offers. This includes its music library. By having this Cloud Player interlinked with Amazon music department, Amazon makes browsing and purchasing music of your liking a breeze. I approve.

With the Amazon Cloud Player mobile app for Android, your music collection is accessible via a 3G connection or WiFi. The UI is clean and easy to use. My only concern is the Amazon upstream. Streaming music over 3G or Wifi still has a slight lag in loading from track to track.

Not much buffering mid song as of the first release of the app last year, but it’s still a little slower than I would prefer when streaming mp3 files. I’ve had less lag streaming from my home media server via Plex. The mobile app also allows for purchasing tracks from the Amazon music store.

Amazon Cloud Player App

Here’s a screenshot of the album and track playback

Amazon Cloud Player Playback

Now let’s look at Amazon’s close competitor, Google’s recently branded Google Play Music. Like Amazon, Google has created a consumer ecosystem that allows music fans to upload their own content as well as purchase more songs and albums. Using the Google Music Manager desktop application, you’re able to upload up to 20,000 songs to your Google cloud system. The capacity isn’t based on gigabytes of storage. The wall is precisely 20,000 songs.

With the Google Play Music mobile app (for Android), you’re able to access your cloud-loaded music and stream it to your devices. Syncing tracks and albums, similar to Apple iTunes, isn’t a necessary task. With Google Play Music, you can “pin” your favorite tracks on the web or mobile device and the cloud will sync it all.

The UI for Google Play Music Android app is similar to Amazon’s where it offers consistent browsing of your current library online or offline, as well as the ability to shop for more music.


Google Play Music App
Below, check out the playback view of Google Play Music.
Google Play Music Android

Pricing on both services is comparable. There are certain deals and promotions that may cancel out the other in regards to being the least expensive for buy music. These deals and promotions can change from day to day.

On the social scene, Google Play Music lets you share purchased tracks and albums via Google Plus. Your friends can hear the full songs free for one play. They can even listen to a full album. The only catch is you can only share via Google Plus. There is no integration with Twitter.

Finally, let’s take a look at Spotify. Spotify touts having “millions of tracks and counting” with regards to its music library. Spotify is different from the Amazon and Google services offered because it allows you to stream music online in a radio-like manner as well as play your own locally saved library. Here are my publicly shared playlists by the way. Spotify allows you to search for artists and genres based on your liking. The radio-like feature within their application is intuitive and plays great quality-audio files.  This leads to great discovery opportunities of tracks and artist you haven’t heard. Online music streaming services such as Spotify allows you to hear your music over the web, as you already know, but it includes ads. In some cases, there are even streaming limits that help protect the service’s bandwidth usage. For $9.99 per month you can enjoy Spotify’s ad-free premium service and allow yourself unlimited streaming each month. With the premium service you can also enjoy your music on a mobile device with Spotify’s mobile apps. I truly enjoy the mobile streaming. The app allowed me to synch my created playlists over the web and they go wherever I go. Local files already on my device are accessible as well. Check out my DroidX screen, below.


Spotify Screen Capture

I pose the question to our readers.  How do you enjoy your music?  One can easily assume that if you’re reading our articles on aNewDomain.net, you’re a digital music listener. I’m sure you still have your CD’s and you true geeks may even still have some cassettes or vinyl.  But how do you enjoy your music? There are advanatages and disadvantages to each of the previously mentioned services.  It just depends on the person and  the scenario.

If you’re a person that’s into a radio-like experience looking to discover new tracks based on popular demand, then I suggest Spotify. Bare in mind that there are limitations on use each month where hours streamed are monitored and ads are used. By paying subscription costs as low as $10 per month, those limitations are lifted. If you’re into having just your own music available to you at your computer, smart phone, tablet or any other internet connected device, then a music locker service such as Google Play Music is the way to go. Sometimes, you know exactly what you want to hear and you to hear it on demand. Therefore, a cloud experience is the better fit as it puts you in the DJ booth. I have a hard time settling on just one service. I proudly utilize both Google Play Music and Spotify on all of my personal platforms.

Fortunately, both the cloud locker services as well as the streaming services offer the ability to enjoy music on the PC with either a web interface or a downloadable desktop client.  Each experience is clean and intuitive for easy use.  The ability to upload some old, obscure tracks I have to my personal cloud from my home PC to enjoy in the office space is a plus(Gooogle).  The ability to curate a radio-like experience into a personal playlist is yet another big advantage (Spotify).

There are tons of other music services available. What are your recommendations? Leave us a comment with your suggestions and thoughts. We at aNewDomain.net would like to hear what our readers are using. Can you persuade me off of Google Play Music or Spotify?

  • http://www.anewdomain.net Carey Head

    I really enjoy Spotify for my own playlists, especially my “nostalgia” tracks: Big 80’s, Outlaw Country, etc. The problem with Spotify (and Google Music) is that the discovery system for new music is too limited. I don’t listen to anything that’s on commercial radio generally, so I have to use a combination of internet radio stations and Pandora to find new music.

  • http://dispersedthoughts.wordpress.com/ Robert Knight

    Music purchased on Amazon does not count against your limit. Or at least in my case. I’m not a Prime customer.

    I use Pandora and Google Music most of the time. What I purchase from Amazon ends up uploaded to Google Music.

    • http://yetanothertechshow.com Ant Pruitt

      You are correct, Robert. Purchased music from Amazon doesn’t count against your cap. I’m still not sold on them since they’re laggy on playback. Nice looking UI, but just lags for me even on Wifi? You tried it?

      -RAP, II

      • http://dispersedthoughts.wordpress.com/ Robert Knight

        I don’t use the Amazon player. On mobile devices I use Google Music, Pandora, and PowerAmp. On my desktop I use Google Music, Pandora, and Clementine.

        • http://antpruitt.wordpress.com Ant Pruitt

          I seem to remember you telling me about Clementine before. More to dig into for me. :)

          As I’m working on another piece for aNewDomain.net, I’m currently listening to Spotify on my laptop. Like you, I tend to switch it up. Havent been on Pandora in about 1 year though.

          We appreciate your feedback, Robert!

          -RAP, II

  • Angelique

    Well as a self-proclaimed
    Geek, with all my vinyls handed down to me, I have just started getting into
    the new way of listening to music. Not knowing where to start, your article has
    helped me in more ways than one. I appreciate the clarity in which you explained
    the features of each Product. From time to time I will continue to play my
    records on my record player. But at least I can figure out what is best for me.
    Thanks to you.

    • Ant Pruitt

      I’m glad I could help you. Keep checking back for more geeked out stuff from us. 

      -RAP, II

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