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Amazon Beats Apple, Google With Launch Of Unlicensed Cloud Music Locker & Player

image from g-ecx.images-amazon.com (UPDATED) Overnight Amazon beat both Google and Apple to market with the launch of a freemium cloud based digital media locker and robust integrated music player that accesses stored tracks across multiple computers and Android devices. The four major labels were informed late last week of the move which, Amazon insists, does not require them to ask licenses. Not every rights holder agreed, however, and at least one label group is considering how to react to Amazon's unilateral decision to launch.

"We don't need a license to store music. The functionality is the same as an external hard drive," according to Craig Pape, director of music at Amazon.  But not everyone agrees.  Sources tell Hypebot that Warner Music Group is particularly upset by Amazon's unlicensed launch and considering how to react.  WMG, may however, find that other labels aren't ready to join them in a fight with Amazon.  "It's about time someone did this and we're just glad its not Apple," one label source shared privately. "It will push other negotiations forward."

Launching without full label buy-in is a bold move for Amazon. But this is the same team that launched Amazon's DRM free mp3 store without at all of the labels – including Warner Music Group – on board.  Just last week, Amazon launched a rival app store despite the threat of a legal battle with Apple who claim to own the term "app". 

Despite some protests, Amazon's new Cloud Player will be seen by others as a needed competitor to Apple. Much like iTune's, Amazon's Cloud Player is well integrated with their download store.  New tracks purchased there can be automatically uploaded to the locker, as can any file on the users computer.  The first 5 gigs of Cloud Drive storage is free, and another 20 gigs is added with the purchase of any album download. Other paid plans are available averaging  $1 per gig per year.

And while the player currently handles only music, Amazon clearly has its sights set on serving up all digital media via the cloud.  CEO Jeff Bezos ended his announcement letter to customers with a coy: "P.S. You can use the Cloud Drive for more than music Store your photos, videos, documents, whatever you'd like, in the cloud."

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25 Comments

  1. The Amazon MP3 Uploader is a free helper application that finds your music and playlists and allows you to upload them to Cloud Drive in a single click. It supports MP3 and AAC files and installs in just a few seconds. Learn more.
    Installation Instructions
    The Amazon MP3 Uploader requires Adobe AIR, which will be installed automatically if it is not already on your computer.
    1. Click Download now below to install the Amazon MP3 Uploader.
    2. Double-click the AmazonMP3UploaderInstaller…dmg file
    3. Go to Finder and double click the Install Amazon MP3 Uploader.app icon.

  2. I’m trying it out now. I have to do it manually, because I have a heck of a lot more than 5 GB of music, so, I have to say it’s kind of slow going. Also, I don’t have any Android devices. Still, this does something very important — it untethers devices from the PC. Tethering becomes optional instead of mandatory like it is right now with Apple devices when you purchase a song. I hope this means that Apple will allow uploads of one’s entire collection instead of just iTunes purchases which is basically a joke it is so limiting.
    Amazon has been the best with cloud storage so far with the way books and the Kindle works. When I think about it, it’s only natural that they would come out with this before the others — they’re the most experienced.

  3. I think the CLOUD thing is getting a bit ” HYPISH ”
    Its cool but not THAT cool.
    Anyone think the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act can be used to get Amazon to pay up?

  4. This also competes with other companies’ free, limited services. For example, mSpot only offer 2 GB of free storage. Audiogalaxy makes your whole library available, but you have to keep the application running on your library’s computer.

  5. Um, I keep my music on my mp3 player. It’s in my pocket. Broadband speed is irrelevant. Buffering is irrelevant. I have headphones and everything. So remind me again why I care about clouds (other than the ones that distribute water that is).
    The funniest thing about this march towards digital EVERYTHING is when the harddrives start failing. Then my CD and vinyl collection won’t be so mocked 🙂

  6. @Diggiti
    How about this scenario? You’re at a party and all of your friends want you to play this new artist you found the other day. Let’s just say this artist is SUPER underground, limited availability and the song(s) you wanna play aren’t streamable on YouTube.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to login to Amazon and just stream your pre-existing library without having to sync or download???
    The Cloud is the future.

  7. Actually, there are limitations. On my iPod Touch, quite a few music videos on YouTube wouldn’t play, because it said it was not allowed on my device. Just sayin’. Nothing beats physical in the end.

  8. Amazon really need to get things rolled out globally. No function for UK yet. I don’t understand. Apple will do their cloud service globally and become the market leader, as usual.

  9. Bruce, that’s twice in as many days you’ve said “iTune’s”. There is no apostrophe in iTunes. C’mon man, you can’t be running an industry blog and not know how to spell the industry leading service’s name.

  10. You know what this is to me? Pure golden competition. I love seeing this in the tech world and it’s the kind of stuff that spurs growth and innovation.

  11. I’ve never tried drop box but I’ve seen it mentioned a few times in relation to this Amazon service which to me could be real gold. Amazon is very much turned into integration of all their services so I am certain that this particular service will improve over time. I’m definitely going to try it out since I spend a lot of money and time on Amazon’s site anyway. Plus it’ll be nice to have access to music over my phone.

  12. “…There are, however, potential enhancements to Cloud Drive and Cloud Player that would require licenses and that we are interested in – like the ability to replace multiple copies of the same music track uploaded by different customers with a single server copy that could be used for all customers with the same track. …”
    The use of a master copy to serve multiple users DOES NOT REQUIRE a license of any type if done correctly. This lack of understanding is widespread and misses the point as does the Amazon letter.
    The problem is that Amazon does not know if the track that the user is placing in the ‘cloud disc’ is really owned by that user unless they have just bought it from Amazon. Any track not bought from Amazon is not checked and therefore, subject to being an illegal download.
    Amazon is actually adding value to counterfeits by assisting users in playing UNVERIFIED tracks. This is adding value to counterfeits and causing the value of legal copyrighted material to decline. This is the real problem with all cloud players.

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