Five ways to put your music in the cloud

Learn five ways to stream your music collection over the internet.

A few weeks ago, I predicted that, along with the iPad, Apple would also debut a version of iTunes that would upload your music collection to the Web and let you stream it back down to your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Well, it turns out I was wrong (for now, anyway).

Fortunately, if you're someone whose music collection outstrips the storage capacity of your iPhone, iPod Touch, Android phone, Netbook, iPad, or whatever, there are a number of tools you can use to get your music collection online and beam it to whatever device you find handy.

Be forewarned: not all of the following methods will stream music to a mobile device. Some will bridge the gap between your home computer and work computer; some will store actual copies of your music; some will simply sling songs from your home computer; and some offer just an approximation of your music collection.

Simplify Music 2

Image of Simplify Music app.
As the name implies, the concept behind Simplify Music is fairly simple. After installing the application on your home computer (Mac or PC), you can browse and stream any song from that machine using an iPhone, iPod Touch, or another computer.

Pros:

  • No limit to the size of your library
  • Add libraries of friends (up to 30)
  • Recognizes playlists
  • Works with UPnP devices such as Xbox, Roku, Sonos

Cons:

  • Doesn't work with DRM music
  • Requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later,
  • Requires your host system to always be on
  • You can't transfer music

MP3 Tunes

Image of MP3 Tune logo.
MP3 Tunes wrote the book when it comes to moving your music collection to the cloud. Since 2005, MP3 Tunes has offered an easy, yet surprisingly sophisticated, system for uploading your music and streaming it over the Web. Recent compatibility with the iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, and Squeezebox makes MP3 Tunes more compelling than ever.

Pros:

  • Free Airband app for iPhone/Touch and Android
  • 2GB free, paid accounts up to 200GB
  • Transfers playlists
  • iTunes
  • like Web interface for streaming and organizing your music
  • Compatible with several desktop Internet radios, including Logitech Squeezebox
  • Tune Up feature allows you to edit track info and album art online
  • LockerSync feature automatically updates cloud with any new music you've added to your library

Cons:

  • Beyond 2GB, you're paying $4.95/month for 50GB, all the way up to 200GB for $12.95/month
  • Free accounts are ad-supported
  • You can't transfer music
  • Doesn't work with DRM music

Amazon Cloud Drive

The online megastore's Cloud Drive online storage service starts with a free 5GB base plan that can be increased to 20GB, 50GB, 100GB, 200GB, 500GB, and 1,000GB, priced at $1 per gigabyte, per year (so that a 100GB plan costs $100 per year). For a limited time, customers who purchase an album from Amazon's MP3 store are automatically upgraded to a 20GB trial account for one year. Read CNET's full review.

Pros:

  • 5GB free
  • Amazon music purchases automatically backed up
  • Files are downloadable
  • Taps into iTunes and also uploads playlists
  • Works with Android and free to stream on any PC

Cons:

  • Audiophile formats not supported (WAV, FLAC, Ogg)
  • Need a paid account to upload more than 5GB
  • Only specific media formats can be uploaded (documents, videos, photos, and music)
  • Doesn't work with DRM music,
  • No iOS app

mSpot

MSpot is one of many solutions that has cropped up as a solution for on-the-go listening. The company offers a music cloud service that lets you upload up to 2GB of music for free and access it from any Wi-Fi-capable computer or Android device. ( More information on the service here ).

Pros:

  • Free 2GB plan
  • Android app
  • Attractive web-based player
  • Intelligent desktop app
  • Sort collection by ID3, create playlists, rate songs

Cons:

  • No iOS pp
  • Storage plans are relatively pricey
  • Your library can't be shared with other users

Last.fm

Logo for Last.fm
Like Lala, Last.fm doesn't literally move your music to the cloud, but instead, learns everything about your collection and your listening habits and reflects a streaming version of your music collection online. For example, you can't just log in to your Last.fm account and cue up your copy of "Folsom Prison Blues." That said, your Last.fm page will show that you have Johnny Cash in your collection and provide a quick link to streaming a randomized selection of Cash's music. It's not a great system for people who want instant access to specific songs from their collections, but the price is right if you can be flexible about song choice.

Pros:

  • Completely free
  • Huge community of music fans
  • Emphasis on music discovery
  • Apps for iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, and Android
  • Compatible with Xbox 360, Sonos, and Logitech Squeezebox
  • Updates new music automatically
  • Keeps track of song plays for running tally of your listening habits
  • Creates personalized radio station based on songs you like
  • Compatible with DRM music
  • Available internationally

Cons:

  • Does not have capability to stream specific songs on demand, but you can browse the artists in your collection and start listening to a randomly selected track. Maybe you'll get lucky.
  • More of a complement to your music library than a replacement
  • Doesn't upload playlists

Disclaimer: Last.fm is a property of CNET's parent company CBS Interactive.

Update: Honorable mention to Nutsie , MeCanto, and Psonar.

 

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