Google is joining Apple and Amazon in offering a music scan and match cloud locker service, but with one important difference – Google’s is free.
All three scan the music library on a user’s computer, then add those tracks to that person’s cloud locker without uploading. Users can only upload to the locker in those cases where the service doesn’t have a match in its extensive catalog of licensed tracks.
Google Music lockers are free for anyone whose library contains fewer than 20,000 tracks. Amazon Cloud Player is free for 250 tracks or $24.99 a year for up to 250,000. Apple’s iTunes Match costs the same $24.99 a year for up to 25,000 tracks.
There is one other difference, as seen when Google Music went live with matching in Europe several weeks ago, but it’s one that may not make much difference to people whose music library exclusively contains tracks purchased from a major digital store. All three let users stream the tracks specified in their lockers (Google at 320 kbps, Apple and Amazon at 256 kbps), but unlike its competitors Google will not let users download the locker versions. That means Google Music users won’t be able to replace their poor quality rips with professionally encoded tracks.
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