Amazon Cloud Players’s Major Fail

MusicPlasma.com has been diligently watching the heated competition between Apple, Amazon, and Google as each tries to provide their best “music in the cloud” offering. Each has its own pros and cons. After a thorough analysis of all of the available reviews and specifications, MusicPlasma.com decided to test out Amazon’s Cloud Player Premium since it appeared to offer the best solution for the majority of our visitors. For $25/Yr, Amazon claims to do the following:

  • Store 250,000 of your songs online
  • Stream all of your songs from a web browser or iPhone/Android app
  • Allow you to download and or stream any of your matched songs in MP3 format at 256K bit rate
  • Upgrade any low quality songs it can match to 256Kb bit rate quality
  • Import songs and playlists from Windows Media Player and iTunes

If Amazon could execute on these tasks, it would surely be the superior cloud music offering. Unfortunately, it comes up woefully short on the last 2 bullet items. We conducted a very realistic test which involved importing a typical user’s music library consisting of about 12000 songs and 50 playlists into Amazon’s Cloud Player Premium. Here are the results

  • Size of music collection = 61GB
  • Format of music collection = 99% MP3, 1% AAC
  • Source of music collection = 95% ripped from original CD’s, 5% purchased from iTunes, eMusic, & Amazon (including auto-rip)
  • Time to import = 29 hours (over very fast broadband connection)
  • % of songs imported = 98%
  • % of songs matched = 62% (all songs had complete metadata prior to import)
  • % of Playlists imported = 100%
  • Completeness of Playlist imported = 9%

Amazon Cloud Player’s song match capability is not stellar by any means.  They failed to match about 1 of every 3 songs attempted.  We knew this going into our test as other users had reported similar results.  This is somewhat understandable since the feature is less than a year old and was probably unveiled too early in an attempt to catch up to Apple’s iTunes.  MusicPlasma.com is anxious to compare these results with Google Play and Apple in future tests.

The length of time to complete the import is perfectly acceptable.  Users should keep in mind that although the process can take days to complete, it is a one time process and most likely the largest upload they have ever made in their lifetime.

Where Amazon completely fails is its inability to accurately import playlists.  The Amazon Music Importer did find all of the playlists in Windows Media Player and iTunes but unfortunately only captured about 9% of the songs in each playlist.  The end result is users will have incomplete playlists when the import process is done.  Trying to fix them will be a painstaking effort for sure.  It would be easier to just start from scratch in Cloud Player Premium and recreate all of your playlists rather than reconcile what Amazon lost and found from your originals.  We envision this being a showstopper for most individuals.

Another major drawback to Amazon’s Cloud Player is their inability to sort or remove duplicate songs  from playlists.  You can add the same song dozens of times to the same playlist.  There is also no way to sort your playlists by Title, Artists, Album, or any measure.  This makes finding duplicates very difficult if your playlist is more than the 25 tracks that show on the first page of the Cloud Player’s interface.  This is why we recommend you not bother trying to import playlists.  Based on our findings, Amazon’s Music Importer will only bring in about 10% of your playlist.  Later, if you manually add tracks to the playlist you will be adding duplicates for any that Amazon actually did bring in on the original import.

Playlists are the lifeblood of any digital music collector’s listening pleasure.  Most people spend countless hours developing playlists as they are the only way to bring order to tens of thousands of songs in a typical collection.  If you are content with complete random play Pandora/Spotify may continue to work for you.  For those playlist junkies however, you may want to hold off on moving your private collection to Amazon Cloud Premium until they improve their playlist import capabilities.