[Info] Moving to the Cloud – Part 1: Music

This series of posts are a beginner’s guide to moving a copy of your data and content to the web. Web access is more or less ubiquitous in this day and age, and along with immense convenience and cross-device access, comes the ability to have multiple backups and offsite storage options for your content for redundancy. I’ll be going through my preferred storage options for music files in this article, and in later articles, options for working online for documents, pictures, movies and more.

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If you’re like me, you have a collection of music you’ve accumulated over the years, probably in MP3 or AAC format and likely to be somewhere in the thousands of files. The problem exists in being able to play those songs back – we often have phones, laptops and tablets which we jump between. Limited storage on these devices means we need to be selective about which songs/albums we store on which devices – headaches. 

Enter [Google Music]. A free service which allows you to store up to [20,000 songs] (at up to 300MB per song) which do not count against your Google or GMail storage space. A browser based streaming player is available, complete with automatically updating cover artwork and lyrics. At any time, you can also download the music you’ve uploaded to your computer in full. You can also upload any type of music file – audiobooks, self-recorded MP3s, etc.Here’s a list of [supported file formats].

The [Android app] is also great, with lock screen functionality, local caching of files (useful if you’re just about to board a flight and you want to load up a few albums) and useful home screen widgets. Streaming also means that your device storage space isn’t taken up with a whole bunch of music that you may or may not listen to – it streams only the songs you specifically want at any time. There are also low-quality and wifi-only options if you want to preserve some mobile bandwidth.

To get started, download the [Google Music Manager] ([Windows/Mac/Linux]), and point it towards your local music collection. After scanning, it’ll begin the lengthy task of uploading your music, bit by bit – depending how much music you have and your upload speed, this could take a while in the background. Fortunately, you can choose to limit upload speed if you don’t want the speed of your other programs affected. If you’re a QoS user, note that it uses HTTPS (443) and uploads to the 1e100.net domain.

Once uploads are finished, you can either leave Google Music to monitor a folder for new files and upload as required (it also works for network paths), or just close it down. You won’t need the desktop app to access Google Music streaming, it’s there ONLY for uploads.

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Tip: Make sure your MP3 tags are correct and in order, it will make your life much easier later on, as Google Music uses these tags to sort your music, not the filename itself. There are a [huge number] of [ways to] organise your tags. This will also help in auto-fetching the album and artist covers.

Once that’s done, that’s it, just download the [Android app], or visit the [Google Music] page, and stream away. If you’re an iOS user, you can stream from the webpage through your browser. Unlike iTunes Match, you don’t need to have a manufacturer specific device to use this service – just the web.

If you’re not a fan of the Google Music interface, or want something a bit different, you can directly store your music on Dropbox or Google Drive as per normal, then use an extension like [DropTunes] (for Dropbox) or [DriveTunes] (for Drive) to stream music. Though you will lose some accessibility options through your mobile device. Naturally, you will need to have sufficient space in these services to store your music files.

So there you having, cross-platform, universal, free access to your music, with easy export options. Every song uploaded will be accessible nearly instantly at any time. Unfortunately, a desktop app is still required for now for uploads, most likely due to the volume of data transmitted, compression and duplication purposes.

If you’re looking for music discovery options, check out [Pandora], [Spotify], [Rdio] or [Soundcloud].

Next up: Storing your pictures!

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