A more portable laptop (in my case, an ultrabook) comes with all kinds of problems for the music enthusiast. The sound quality of Apple’s built-in speakers is better than most, and I love iTunes’ capabilities for organising my media library. However, anything resembling a decent music collection takes up most – if not all – of the available hard drive space. Without a gigantic hard drive, keeping a local music library simply isn’t feasible.
The obvious alternative would be Spotify. However, I don’t very often go on a journey of musical discovery from within Spotify and it feels strange to pay a monthly fee to play what is essentially the same music library over and over again.
CloudPlay ($ 4.99)
CloudPlay is a nifty little application that resides in your Mac OS X menu bar. To use it, just click on the little cloud icon in your menu bar and start searching for music that fits your mood. CloudPlay solves the problems mentioned earlier by pulling its music from the cloud. However, unlike other popular Cloud players like Spotify and Grooveshark CloudPlay doesn’t let you tune in to its own super sized music database. Instead, CloudPlay looks for the tracks using other third-party services, like YouTube and SoundCloud.
This both has its advantages and its disadvantages. Unlike Spotify and Grooveshark, CloudPlay won’t ask for a monthly fee. After a single payment of $4.99 the application is yours and you won’t be charged again. However, some of CloudPlay’s procurement of music may be in a grey zone. If a music video is deleted from YouTube due to a DMCA complaint, it will also disappear from SoundCloud.
Perhaps the biggest single drawback to SoundCloud is its fragmented search. With Spotify, you search for a song or artist and receive a simple response to your query. With CloudPlay, a lot of different users may have uploaded the same music video, crowding your search results. But all in all, this is a small price to pay for free access to a ridiculous amount of music.
CloudPlay tunes in to multiple services to provide you with music. First and foremost, CloudPlay looks at your iTunes library. Any song you already have on your computer will also show up in CloudPlay’s search result. This ensures you’ll get your music with the best audio quality possible. This is especially great news if you’ve spent a lot of time painstakingly organising your iTunes music library.
If CloudPlay can’t find the track in your iTunes library, it’ll start looking online. Online sources include YouTube, SoundCloud, Exfm, UndergroundMusic, Jamendo and Official.fm. If you aren’t able to find the song you’re looking for through YouTube, CloudPlay’s combination of professional, indie and all-round music services provide a great fallback.
You can toggle any of these sources on or off in SoundCloud’s preference to get a more fine grained control of your search results.
Just like most other music players, CloudPlay gives you the ability to create a playlist of your favourite songs. To add a song to a playlist, right-click it in CloudPlay and select or create a new playlist. These playlists are visible in CloudPlay by pressing the drop-down menu in the main application screen. This is especially useful because you can add tracks from across different music sources to a single playlist.
CloudPlay can also tune in to other playlists. Any playlists you have in your iTunes library are also accessible through CloudPlay’s drop-down menu. Better yet, you can access your favourites and playlists that you previously created on your YouTube account, or browse preexisting playlists on Console.fm and Jamendo.
However, if you want to stream music from your YouTube playlists offline, you’ll have to use other tools to download your YouTube playlists.
A third and final source of music for CloudPlay is in Online Radio. There is a rich offering of online radio stations; thousands upon thousands of them. Angela Alcorn even wrote about how to create your own online radio station. CloudPlay searches these radio stations to give you additional search results, besides the aforementioned sources. Similar to tracks that are found using other music services, you can save radio stations that you like to your playlists, adding dynamic content to your song collections.
What application or service do you use to listen to music on your computer. Do you still keep all your albums locally, or have you perhaps subscribed to a cloud music service. Let us know in the comments section below the article!