Are you one of those Spotify listeners who doesn’t want to pay $10 a month to play your music on your mobile device? If so, you may (or may not) know that there are plenty of alternatives which are just as good (if not better) and cheaper. Recently, I profiled Sky.FM, which is one of my favourite music apps for the iPhone, but my all-time favourite, the King of Kings, has to be without a doubt Amazon Cloud Player (free).
When it comes to Cloud Player, Amazon has ticked all the right boxes, and gone above and beyond to give you a truly outstanding app. Throw in the fact that the iPhone app is free, and (at least here in Europe), the MP3 songs on Amazon are cheaper than iTunes, and you have a runaway winner on your hands.
Do You Need To Buy All Of Your Music From Amazon?
Obviously, Amazon would like you to buy all of your music from them, but there’s nothing to stop you uploading your iTunes music into Amazon Cloud Player. As long as the file is an MP3 or M4a file, it will work perfectly fine in Amazon Cloud Player. It will even play your ripped CD’s, provided they are in MP3 format.
How Do I Get My Music Into Amazon Cloud Player?
Amazon Cloud Player consists of both a desktop version and a web version. Everyone has a web version attached to their Amazon account, but whether or not you use the desktop version is entirely up to you. I like using it, but the browser-based web version works just as well.
To upload your music, you need to use the web-based version. The desktop program will redirect you to the web-based Cloud Player, and the iPhone has no upload feature. So head to this page, sign into your Amazon account, and you will see your Cloud Player account on the page.
There are three things to bear in mind before you start uploading. The first is that when you buy a music from Amazon, a copy of it is automatically put in your Cloud Player account. Secondly, Amazon is now giving people free MP3 copies of music CD’s purchased through Amazon since 1998, under a scheme called AutoRip. So before you upload, check your Amazon Cloud Player account to see if the music is already there. The first time I used Cloud Player, I was very pleasantly surprised at what was already there, including some albums that I had bought on CD years earlier and totally forgot about.
The third thing to remember is that you can’t upload limitless amounts of music to Amazon, not unless you’re willing to pay for the storage. Everyone gets a free plan where you can upload 250 songs to your account. And what is really good is that anything bought on Amazon doesn’t count towards the 250 limit. So there’s a really good reason to buy only from Amazon.
But if you have more than 250 songs, you will have to upgrade to the paid plan, which is a very reasonable $24.99 a year. For that, you can upload a maximum of 250,000 songs. For most people, that counts as “limitless”. I mean, who has more than 250,000 songs that they actually listen to?
So assuming the music isn’t already there, click the Import Your Music button and you will be prompted to run Amazon Music Importer, which is a small Adobe Air-based program. After installation, this window should pop up.
Choose whether or not you want the importer to automatically scan your computer for music, or whether you want to manually add it yourself (I personally prefer the second option as it gives me more control over the process). Then sit back and let the Importer do its work.
The iPhone App
OK, now that we have figured out how to get the music into the Cloud Player, we can turn our attention to the actual mobile app. There is an Android version of the app, but today I am going to talk about the iPhone (though the features are more-or-less the same).
When you fire it up, you will be asked to sign in with your Amazon credentials.
Once you have successfully signed in, the music you previously uploaded to your Cloud account will begin appearing.
As you can see, there are several “views” or “filters” that you can apply to your music. You can view by album, by artist, by song, or by genre.
One tab I will quickly look at is the Playlists tab. When you sign in, there are two playlists automatically there – Purchased and Recently Added. As the names suggest, Purchased is everything bought on Amazon and Recently Added… well you can probably figure that out for yourself! You can also make your own playlists. Here, I have made a playlist with all my U2 albums.
And please, no sarcastic remarks about my David Hasselhoff MP3. I actually like the song, OK?!
So, to play a song, just tap on the one you want, and if you are in album view, the album will open up with the songs you have bought from it. In this case, it is only one song – the Skyfall soundtrack from the latest James Bond movie.
A few things to note about this screen :
- The small Facebook icon lets you toggle on and off whether or not you want all of your music listening activity published to your Facebook Timeline. Be careful about this option if you don’t want your Facebook friends to know that you are a closet Justin Bieber fan.
- The four dots and horizontal lines icon in the top right hand corner takes you back to the album page, while the song is playing. While there, you can browse the other song titles, and download them to your phone.
- The two vertical arrows in the top left hand corner also takes you back to the album page, but unlike the previous option, there is no way back to the song, unless you start it again.
- You can control the volume using the bottom yellow horizontal slider. So no faffing around with the iPhone volume controls.
One final feature worth mentioning is that when the phone auto-locks, the music will still keep playing. You can see the album art, control the song volume, pause, and flip forwards and backwards to the next and previous songs. So there’s no need to keep unlocking your phone, everytime you want to adjust something in the app.
Download: Amazon Cloud Player (free)
In my opinion, Amazon Cloud Player currently takes the crown for being the King of mobile media players. Do you think anyone has a serious shot of challenging them?