It seems like every few months, one of the major players in online music services—Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Spotify, and so on—will announce new features aimed at catching up to, or leapfrogging, the competition. Today, its Amazon’s turn: The online retailer and cloud services purveyor announced a significant update to its Cloud Player that adds music “scan and match” functionality, similar to Apple’s iTunes Match, to the service.
Furthermore, Amazon will soon allow users of Roku and Sonos devices to access Amazon Cloud Player content; today, you can access this content from Cloud Player on Kindle Fire, Android phones and tablets, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macs, and PCs.
The scan and match functionality obviously required industry support, and Amazon got it courtesy of agreements with Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and more than 150 independent distributors, aggregators and music publishers.
“We are constantly striving to deliver the best possible customer experience for Cloud Player, and today we are offering our customers a significant set of new features, including scan and match technology and audio quality upgrade,” said Amazon vice president Steve Boom. “We are happy to have such broad industry support in enabling these features for customers.”
As with iTunes Match, the new version of the service will identify music on the user’s computer, match it to Amazon’s online collection of over 20 million songs, and then provide high-quality 256 Kbps, cloud-based versions of the songs in the user’s Amazon Cloud Player. These songs can later be downloaded to other PCs, if desired.
The service is free for up to 250 songs. After that, Amazon will charge $24.99 a year for the scan and match service, part of what’s now called Cloud Player Premium, and will allow for collections of up to 250,000 songs. Purchases made at Amazon MP3 are automatically added to the user’s account online. (Previous purchases will be made automatically as well.)
I’ll try to evaluate the new service this week. But it looks like Amazon has nicely duplicated iTunes Match in a non-Apple package, which I’m certainly interested in.