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The Digital Music Battlefield

Apple may have dominated the music industry with its online music store during this past decade, but things are quickly starting to change.  With the advent of smartphones and tablets, people are looking for other ways to get access to their media.  And there are plenty of companies willing to get their share of the business.  Companies like Amazon, Google, and Spotify are all coming up with new ideas to take the industry by storm.  

Amazon opened its online music store a few years ago and hasn’t looked back.  Offering the same music as Apple at competitive prices, Amazon is the only company so far to even come close to Apple’s music store dominance.  Amazon just recently released its own cloud service that stores up to 5GB of user’s music online and lets you access it from any computer.  Although it can take up to 12 hours to upload your entire music library, it’s a step in the right direction.

Not to be overshadowed, Google also released its own cloud music service called Google Music Beta in May 2011.  While they got the idea right, they didn’t quite get the logistics down.  Google Music Beta lets you upload up to 20,000 songs online and then lets you access it from any web browser.  While the concept is simple enough, there have been complaints that you can’t choose what music to upload, you can’t upload from a mobile device, and that it’s generally slow.  And with no mechanism to purchase new music, it just doesn’t compare to Amazon or Apple.  But just this morning, Google announced a new plan to open an online music store and cloud storage service.  Before they can do that though, they need to get all the major labels on board.  But Google did hint that there will be “a little twist” and that they won’t just be selling 99-cent tracks.  There may be plenty of companies entering the ring, but Apple won’t go down without a fight.

Apple just released it’s new iCloud service, which lets users wirelessly store and access their media online.  Gone are the days of downloading a song to your iphone, syncing it to your computer, and then plugging in your iPad to sync to that too.  Now you can access a newly purchased song from your computer, iphone, or iPad instantly.  Apple is also releasing a new service called iTunes Match for $24.99/year that lets users add music not purchased on iTunes to their iCloud.  Which means that if you illegally downloaded a song a few years ago, Apple will store it on the iCloud and even upgrade the quality for you.

And just to throw a wrench into everything, Spotify was just recently released in the US, which allows users to access a massive music library either for free (with ads of course) or for $9.99 a month, you can have access to the entire library ad-free,  on your smartphone, and even when you’re not online.

It’s hard to tell at this point who will come out on top (or stay on top) but the one thing that is clear, is that if you’re a consumer of music, you will have the most and best choices that have probably ever been available.   By: Ryan J. Colburn Live-Banner-General-Homepage.jpg

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