Amazon Cloudburst (aka “Nice MP3s Ya Got Here, Hate To See Somethin’ Happen to Em”)

I’ve been staring at my screen for about an hour, keeping this one tab open behind others. I check the news, look at Metafilter, refresh my email, then I come back to the tab in question. At the center of the tab is an implied question. Or a decision. Actually, it is neither of these. I’ve been informed of a new situation and my only choice is to comply.

I’ve been sold a bill of goods. Most accurately, I’ve been sold a bill of services. For almost a year, I’ve been asked by Amazon to upload my cherished collection of MP3s to their voluminous servers. I was nervous at first, particularly since Google’s similar service was so dreadfully slow on the uptake. Literally. But, Amazon assured me, they had the speed and the space. Unlimited space, in fact. To a collector with almost 16,000 MP3s gathered over a range of years (almost a decade), that was the clincher.

So last year, probably around this time, I started uploading my MP3s in semi-organized clutches based on theme or discography. And I had a plan, because my buy-in to Amazon’s Cloud Player was influenced heavily by a further announcement of an affordable tablet, the Kindle Fire. Up went all my Rolling Stones. Then The Beastie Boys. And so on and so forth, knowing that the Fire (which I pre-ordered the day it was officially announced) would be released in the fall.

I had about 5,000 songs uploaded by the time I received my Fire. And I used it when I could, constrained as I was to wi-fi and the limited storage capacity of the tablet for offline syncing. Though the Fire was a worthwhile device for content delivery, it lacked a lot of general utility.

But all that changed when I buckled down this spring, rooted the Fire and replaced the OS with a truer Android entity. Suddenly, the Fire had far more merit, if still no increase in storage. Inspired by the increased value, I set about uploading all of my music to Amazon’s could. Every last song.

The process took about five and a half days. For a couple of those days, the uploader reported only that there were >99 hours remaining. I posted updates to Twitter and got nothing but encouragement. Was told that this was a far better option than the problem-plagued iTunes Match.

Just the other week, I came this close to backing up my MP3s one more time to a portable drive and deleting those on my home machine. The songs were in the cloud, right?

Now, I’m so glad I didn’t.

So now, I have to make a decision. Or rather, I have to accept the new promise that replaces the old promise. Either I pay $25 a year (on top of an existing $75 Prime membership) to keep all of the songs that I’ve uploaded to the Cloud in good faith, or I let that unasked-for subscription lapse and watch as that 16,000 song collection is whittled down to 250 songs.

It feels a bit like a ransom. Or a protection racket.

And maybe a bit of a betrayal, particularly seeing how often I’ve supported Amazon as a customer and admired them as a UX architect.

And no, I don’t know what to do, aside from possibly going back to an older solution like AudioGalaxy. It is too easy to say that Spotify is the solution, but for all of their vast catalog, there are obvious gaps. And if you’re looking for older classics on Spotify (say a search on “Sinatra), you’ll enter a Wild West of loose copyright and opportunistic compilations.

So … I guess I’ll push the “Continue” button. And seethe while I plan my next move.


“Continue” having been pressed, the next modal window reminds me that I’ve spent a good amount of my money buying MP3s via Amazon. 68 times, I have done so. And yet, that’s not enough to merit a promise kept?


Remarkably disappointing. Out of the 16,285 songs in my library, how many were deemed worthy of the promised “upgrade” to 256kps? Only 1,708.

Admittedly, I have done my level best to weed my music garden of the earliest of early MP3 acquisitions, clocking in at 128kps and maybe 160kps. But even my own rips have been done at 192kps, which is perfectly fine to most discerning ears.

So why did Amazon stop at only 10% of my total collection? And for that matter, why did it cherry pick only certain songs from whole albums to upgrade, as evidenced here?

I’m reduced to blinking in confusion, frankly.


One response to “Amazon Cloudburst (aka “Nice MP3s Ya Got Here, Hate To See Somethin’ Happen to Em”)”

  1. Answer: google music. Switched from cloud player to that several months back and love it.
    Monochrome. Pressure. Vivid.

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