Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Journey of my music files

I just bought the album Pala by Friendly Fires (whom I will hopefully be seeing this Saturday at Lollapalooza) earlier tonight.  In the process, I kicked off an interesting chain of MP3 file transfers that illustrates how my music "lives in the cloud" these days.

First, I bought the album with "1 Click®" (actually 2, since I have my account set to confirm my MP3 purchases) on Amazon.  I have my account set up to automatically add my MP3 purchases to my Amazon Cloud Drive.  From the purchase confirmation screen, it's one click over to the Amazon Cloud Player, and then four more to initiate the album download to my PC using the Amazon MP Downloader.  The MP3 Downloader is set up to download songs into my music library on my PC.  The folders in which my music library resides are watched by a couple of services running on the computer.  I use Windows Live Mesh to automatically synchronize my music (as well as my pictures, videos, documents, etc.) across a couple of of PCs - my Media Center PC was actually asleep at the time, so this transfer actually will not kick off until it is awakened.  The other service, Google's Music Manager, watches for additions to the library and automatically uploads the songs to Google Music - this transfer did kick off shortly after the download.  So I am now able to stream Pala to my (Android-running) Nexus S using the stock music app.  I can also use the Cloud Player in my Amazon MP3 app to stream from my Cloud Drive, but I prefer using the music app (better interface, includes on-device music while offline, and *scrobbles* to Last.fm).  I should note that for a few minutes all these file transfers do slow my Internet/network connection to a crawl for other non-music related activities.

So in about 6 clicks (after finding the album on Amazon), I set off a process that put the album on 2 cloud services and 2 PCs, and allows me to stream it to my phone using 2 different apps.  In 2 clicks (1 if I turn off purchase confirmation), I would have been able to stream to my phone from the cloud using only Amazon services and the Android mobile platform.  The tech-savvy among us will note that Apple's upcoming iCloud service will provide the same type of functionality, though they (and Apple fanboys everywhere) claim that their way is the way that it "should" be - it's yet another case of Apple taking something that's already being done and making it shiny and pretty, and charging more for it (though I will give them kudos for how seamlessly it appears that their cloud functionality will be integrated with everything Apple).  One reason, among others, that I'm not considering a switch to the iEcosystem/iUniverse is that, as is typical, Pala costs $2 more on iTunes than on Amazon.

As an aside, T-Mobile's (and other mobile carriers') network engineers are probably not too thrilled with this cloud-based availability, as I (and I'm sure many others) have switched to using my phone as my music player while driving in my car (using my stereo auxiliary input).  Prior to the switch, I consumed under 200 MB per billing cycle in data usage.  This billing cycle is the first full one that I will be in the country since the switch, and I had consumed about 1.5 GB of data with a week or so left in the cycle.

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