Amazon revealed on Tuesday that it is bringing some serious upgrades to its Cloud Player music streaming platform, which will make the service all the more competitive to the likes of Apple's iTunes Match and Google Music.
The first new piece of technology that will put Amazon Cloud Player in prime position to do just that is the addition of scan and match technology. The service scans customers’ iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries and then matches the songs on their computers to Amazon’s song catalog, which includes 20 million tracks and counting.
All of the matched songs –- including music purchased from iTunes or ripped from CDs (or possibly obtained elsehwere) -- will then be accessible immediately via Cloud Player and upgraded for free to high-quality 256Kbps audio. Music that customers have already uploaded to Cloud Player also will be upgraded.
The Amazon Cloud Player service will also now be more appealing to consumers shopping around for a digital music service for a few other reasons -- namely wider accessibility.
For example, any customer with a Kindle Fire, Android device, iPhone, iPod touch, or even just using a web browser will be able to access the Cloud Player (and thus, their music) from anywhere. Amazon is planning to add support for Roku and Sonos home entertainment systems soon too.
Additionally, Amazon MP3 purchases -- including music that customers purchased in the past -- will be automatically saved to Cloud Player so that customers have a secure and free backup copy of the music they buy from Amazon.
These updates are also coming about as Amazon announced several new licensing agreements for Cloud Player, including deals with Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and more than 150 independent distributors, aggregators and music publishers.
All of this lines up with Amazon's ongoing strategy to rebrand the Cloud Player service as an entity and service of its own that can compete with the now-flooded digital music streaming service market.
Starting today, Amazon Cloud Drive will be used for file storage while Cloud Player will be solely for music storage and playback.
Each service will offer separate subscriptions, but customers can still use Cloud Drive to store any files in the cloud and access them from any web browser or by using the Cloud Drive Desktop Apps. Customers can store up to 5GB free and storage plan prices have been lowered to start at $10 per year for 20GB.