Today, Amazon finally launched its Cloud Player service in the UK, France and Germany. Akin to iTunes Match, the core premise of the service is that you can upload your digital music collection into the cloud to access it anywhere via your device of choice. It will match your Amazon MP3 purchases automatically, but for me (as with many others it would seem), that amounts to nothing as I’ve never purchased digital music from them.
Unlike iTunes Match, the service will not scan your existing library to populate your cloud music collection. Instead, you must upload all the music to their servers – a process so unappealing and onerous for anyone with more than a couple of hundred tracks that I’m amazed anyone would bother. Correction: Amazon does now provide a scan-and-match facility for your MP3 collection.
This brings to mind a question that’s been bothering me for a while now: why are these cloud music services aiming to convert music fans with digital collections, but not those with physical format ones?
Both iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Player accept that the music you upload may not have been obtained legally. However the genius of both is that they will still monetise plays, in essence generating revenue for rights holders from pirated content. That being the case then, why do they not go a step further and allow you to scan in your CD collection too?
Yesterday on my own blog I detailed my attempts to make the move from owning a large physical music collection to a digital one that I could access anywhere. As I outlined in that post, it is incredibly easy to scan in your collection using decent software (in my case the excellent Delicious Library 2) which placed all my music into a database that can even export to XML, CSV and various other formats. What is not easy to do thereafter is apply that data to any service to match it. In my case, Rdio is my day-to-day service of choice. To my knowledge, no such tool exists to simply scan the database of my collection and the populate my Rdio library with those releases.
To me at least, this seems like a serious shortfall on these services’ collective featureset. After all, if I scanned my CD collection and matched it in my service of choice, would that not get me using that service all the more?
Convenience is king. The success over the years of digital music services and even compressed audio formats have proven that. So which is more convenient: ripping all my CDs, one at a time, to MP3 and the uploading them to Amazon – or rapidly scanning each barcode and matching it to my monetising music service of choice?
Its a no-brainer. And yet, it seems to be a no-brainer that the digital music services are either not aware of, or are choosing to ignore. Whichever way, it makes no sense to me.