Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cloud Player & Record Label Backlash / Top 100 free mp3 downloads - UPDATE2

  (See Updates below.)

Also see the first blog article on this, as that introduced the feature and explains, more or less, how the cloud drive space upgrade to free 20GB space works.

  What does this have to do with the Kindle?  Anything we upload to our Amazon 'Cloud' drive is also downloadable to our various devices, and that includes our computer, and we can copy or move some mp3's to our Kindle's "music" folder, which is on the same level as the "documents" folder.

  However, the Kindle 2, 3, and DX all play the mp3's in the order they're installed and in the background while you're reading (the Kindle 1 plays them entirely in random order).  BUT if you want to be able to select an mp3 to play, you can put some in the 'Audible' folder and then they'll show up eein the menu, but you won't be able to read a Kindle book at the same time with that method.

  Remember also that mp3 files tend to be several times larger than book files, so it's best not to put too many on the Kindle.  (The Kindle doesn't stream music from the Net, of course.)  Most Kindlers tend to be Amazon customers who have a strong interest in sight & sound, in general, so I include that from time to time.

  ALSO, note that the Cloud Drive can be used for videos, photos, and documents as well, and that includes backup of books you did not buy from Amazon and your personal documents that you'd liked backed up externally.

  At the bottom of this blog article, you'll see some of Amazon's highlighted mp3 download pages.

Cloud Drive and Player Brouhaha
CBS News carries a CNet article by Greg Sandoval about Amazon's Cloud Player triggering a backlash, as Amazon did not obtain prior permission from the major studios and top record companies.  Many of them tell CNet they feel it violates their rights.

  Bear in mind this is storing recordings that an Amazon customer has bought and owns.  Presumably.  The service does not stream it to the multitudes as does -- it streams the music to the customer who owns it.  In the agreement that we have to sign, we agree not to allow others to access this password-protected material to stream it for themselves.  It's not meant to be streaming to anyone but the person who owns the music files.

  For that reason, the record companies will have a hard time, I think, to stop this.  Furthermore, Amazon has said they got this up in place and are willing to negotiate the licenses for a customer to listen to his/her own music from the Net, once it is up and running:
' Sources said then that Amazon had met with some of their studio and label counterparts to lay out their plans. In those talks, Amazon executives said that they wanted to get up and running quickly and also wanted their blessing.  Amazon execs said in the meetings that they were prepared to unveil the service without licenses and would negotiate them at a later date. '
  However, CNet says that in an interview with the New York Times on Monday, they took "a more defiant tone" in that Amazon feels that with regard to music,  ' "We don't need a license to store music," Craig Pape, director of music at Amazon, said. "The functionality is the same as an external hard drive." '

  The 4 top labels, Sandoval writes, have made it clear that their current licenses don't allow for cloud distribution or storage.  OR STORAGE??  Are they kidding?  I can see how they would not like music streamed to the world, but NOT STORED???  How do they plan to stop us from storing our mp3s wherever we like?  Places like Mozy, Dropbox or back up for us what we OWN the rights to STORE.  Now, streaming might be another matter, but I can see a problem if Amazon were streaming that music for *others* to hear rather than just the owner, and their Agreement makes clear that the streaming is only for the owner-customer.

What does this remind me of?
  This reminds me of the Big6 publishers who did not foresee the e-book or digital media changes coming and did not do licensing for that, specifically, when they first bought book rights.  A lawsuit to grab digital rights, after the fact, failed, because of what was considered the ‘new use’ – "electronic digital signals sent over the internet" being a separate medium from the original use."  In that case, it was whether the author, instead of the publisher, owned the digital rights, but the publisher was claiming rights to a publishing format that did not exist yet and that wasn't dealt with in a contract.

  Storing music that we purchase, on an external drive, has to be "licensed" ?  No good luck to them on that one.  Streaming music upon demand of the owner of an mp3 to that owner's ears only -- it'll be interesting how far they get on that one.  But we can bet that they'll try to include a clause against this on future recordings.

  Sandoval writes that "it's unlikely the labels would at this point file a lawsuit, but the potential for a legal fight is real" and adds that "EMI, the smallest of the four largest record labels, filed a lawsuit in 2007 against and founder Michael Robertson, one of the pioneers in cloud music" (who founded

  See the CNET article for more on what MP3Tunes and Sideload actually do.  It's just nothing like what Amazon is doing.  It involves tracking down and providing links to "pilfered" music files and then storing them on MP3Tunes.

  Apparently, Amazon risked being bogged down in negotiations for months and was determined to be "first out the door with a cloud service" and "time was running out."  CNet reported last week that some Google employees are doing internal testing of Google music, and Bloomberg reported that Apple is in talks with major labels on access to cloud-based tracks.

  Amazon's acting first may have offered too many advantages for the company to sit still, Sandoval writes.  The reality has been that customers who use cloud services are not enthusiastic about moving to another service after taking the time to upload their media.  First come, first serve(r).

  Sandoval reminds us that
' ...earlier this month, Amazon dropped a bombshell by announcing that members of the company's Prime service would receive free-of-charge access to a pool of 5,000 streaming movies and TV shows. Analysts noted that Amazon had the money and audience to challenge Netflix's domination.  The move put Amazon on the streaming-video map.

Not only did that send Netflix stock into a swoon, but it sent a message that Amazon is no longer satisfied with taking a backseat in digital distribution. '

Top100 free mp3 album downloads and Top 100 paid, on the same page.

Bestseller Mp3 Albums and Song Downloads

100 mp3 albums for $5, selected by Amazon editors

As non-U.S. customers know too well, new features come very late for them, partly because the U.S. customers are like a large test-sample for the later global offerings and because even more rights (countries differ widely in these) have to be considered.

  Right now, all Amazon customers get the basic 5 Gig Cloud Drive, but for some countries, the 20 GB upgrade feature is "currently unavailable," and only U.S. customers are able to use Cloud Player for streaming of their stored music at this point.
UPDATED, edited paragraph below
  As pointed out in the announcement post, the 20 GB upgrade is for a year and then it automatically reverts to the basic free 5 GB.  However, there is an opportunity for another 20 GB bonus that can be activated at the end of that first year.  See the original post for the details.

  In my case, I ran across the $2.49 $0.99 album {4/4/11) of 99 darkest classical-music movements by really good musicians, an mp3 collection which would otherwise be 99 cents per cut, or $95 :-)  But listeners don't usually buy just a movement from here and a movement from there, although sometimes compilations are made for a particular mood (or, in this case some would say, don't go there).

  However, it includes Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings in one of the best versions I've heard -- the Adagio was used for the movie, Elephant Man and is heard when the audience sees only a dark, starry night.  Very sad music, but it's mesmerizing with gorgeous chord changes and inner lines beautifully performed.
  On the piano are less known, but really excellent pianists like Arnoldo Cohen and Dubravka Tomsic.
  HOWEVER, really awful* is that the album's mp3-playlist shows NO composer names.

  * UPDATE2 - It turns out that the composers ARE credited on the mp3 file info fields and they show up in the data fields and playlist info of most computer mp3 players and libraries, including iTunes.  We need to ask Amazon to include the Composer names on the Cloud Player.

  For $2.49*  I decided this was a good album to get, to qualify for the Cloud Drive upgrade to 20 Gigs of storage.
  But on 4/4/11, this became $0.99 - and there are about 9 hours of music in this set.  (Price went back up later.)
Most customers writing about the quality of the music and performances are very happy (except those unhappy to see NO composer names on the Cloud Player). I just read this one line from a review:

"This is the best bargain I have bought in my entire life of 29 years."

And it's his first classical collection, as he likes other genres.  Most are posting it's a bargain at $5 (its price earlier) or at $2.50.  But it's 99 cents currently -- the price went back to $2.49 later [and went back up, to $5.99 later].

 FURTHER ON UPDATE2:  Also at $0.99 (price went back up later), people are enjoying The 99 Most Essential Relaxing Classics.  Definitely a 'mood' use of classical music but ratings are high.  However, the sound level is anything but consistent and I personally prefer the content in the "99 Darkest" album.
 Amazon benefits from customer Ekkehard Rohwedder's listing of composers from mp3 data fields, in the "Relaxing" one here though.  I notice iTunes's public listings omit the composers in these albums too, but the mp3 data fields does hold them.

  The vast majority will find, at the Top 100 links given above, other inexpensive, or free, quality mp3 album downloads in several genres.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. It may be worth noting that the free 20 gig upgrade is only free for the 1st year. After 1 year, you either have to pay for the additional storage or revert back to the basic 5 gigs.

  2. MrBooknerd,
    I link in this blog article to the FIRST article two days ago (which was itself long) which mentioned it a couple of times.

    I realize people don't follow that kind of link, but at least I tried. I'm wordy enough already.

    However, I bought an album yesterday, for $2.49 as I said in this blog entry today and got my 20 Gigs.

    Today I bought some other lower-priced ones because they had tracks I wanted.

    I got a notice that I had another 20-gigs credited that could be used when this one expires.

    I had wondered what the paragraph I quoted the other day meant when it described what would happen if you already had 20 gigs! Now I know. Rather nice!

  3. MrBooknerd,
    I added the reminder and a link to the older post's information + the update with my 2nd bonus experience today. Thanks.


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