By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
One big problem with music â arguably the biggest, because it could solve so many of the others â is that services and formats donât work together very well. In a perfect world, every song youâve ever bought on any format, liked, âLiked,â or tagged would be available to you, forever, anywhere, without you doing much to make that happen (other than paying a reasonable monthly fee).
We might not ever get there, but weâre getting closer. Another sign: iCoreTech Audiobox, a do-it-yourself cloud locker service, wraps up a bunch of official-style cloud music services into one neat package for the web and, now, on iOS devices too.
Without paying a cent, you can stream music from your own computers to any other computer or iOS device. Itâs super easy, once they all get indexed â you basically just install the desktop software and mobile apps, create an account, and pick the folder on your computer that you want to turn into a free DIY cloud music service.
Oh, and you can turn any of that music into playlists that can be cached on your iOS device, so you donât even need a connection to play them. Itâs your cloud in a box! That right there would make this a worthwhile app for both the web and iOS, especially because it also includes all the music youâve uploaded to YouTube and SoundCloud.
But if you pay, things get more interesting.
For $1 per month and up, your account adds an Audiobox cloud locker (5GB and up), plus the ability to play music from other lockers, such as Dropbox, Box.net, Google Drive and SkyDrive (full list below). So basically, for a dollar a month (none of which goes to copyright holders, presumably), you can run your own cloud music service drawing on all of your cloud lockers, your SoundCloud uploads, your YouTube uploads, and of course all of your own computers. If youâre still living in a âbuy or downloadâ world and want to do the music cloud, this is the way to do it.
Audiobox also offers a feature list that is justifiably described as âkickass.â The following are available in the free version, for the price of a confirmed email address:
- Streaming any music on your home computer (Linux, Mac, or Windows), so long as itâs switched on and running the DIY music locker software
- Offline playback (crucial to mediaâs future)
- Native AirPlay integration (on iOS) so you donât have to do this to put your music on AirPlay speakers
- MusixMatch lyrics
- Social sharing
- Gapless playback
- Every song you have uploaded to YouTube (it would be nice if you could access other YouTube music too, but thatâs cool)
- Everything you have uploaded to SoundCloud (ditto)
- Ability to control iOS playback from compatible car stereo
- Integration for sharing and scrobbling with your Facebook, Last.fm, musiXmatch, SongKick, Twitch.tv, and Twitter accounts.
If you pay at least $1 (for 5GB of Audiobox storage), youâll also get all the music in your Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.net, and/or SkyDrive accounts, so you donât even need to rely on Audiobox (or your own computer) for storing files. These services can automatically sync folders â like, for instance, your music folder â to the cloud, meaning that you can play all of the music on your home computer without having it turned on, the way you must with the free plan. But you can also do that.
And, again, you can make downloadable playlists from across all of these places, and your own home computer, by just dragging and dropping songs in the web interface.
Weâve been testing Audiobox a great deal today, after seeing the flurry of press coverage following yesterdayâs announcement. Now that weâve actually put it through its paces, we heartily recommend it.