Monday, August 6, 2012

Kindle News: Clarifying Amazon Cloud announcements and changes - Update/Revision 3

Revised/Updated late evening August 6

On June 12, I wrote about the Amazon Cloud Player app for iPhone and iPod Touch and that the Amazon Appstore was likely to hit Europe this summer.

  Both are obvious signs of Amazon's plans to expand access to its digital media wherever it can, although the Kindle Fire hasn't been sold internationally yet, due to time-intense negotiations for "fresh agreements for books, music, and movies in every market they launch," per's Simon D. Thomas.
  And they're strongly rumored to be adding another Kindle Fire with more hardware power to their line (with a good push by the Google Nexus 7" tablet).

On July 31, Amazon announced in a press release their music licensing agreements with Sony, EMI, Universal, Warner, and over 150 independent distributors, aggregators and music publishers.

  They say that their "scan and match technology" gives customers a faster, easier way to "get all of their music from their computers to the cloud," from which they can then play their music on their favorite devices -- Kindle Fire, iPhone iPod Touch, Android devices and any web browser -- and soon, Roku streaming players and Sonos home entertainment systems.

  New features:
  • Any Amazon mp3 purchases, including mp3's bought from Amazon in the past, are automatically saved to Cloud Player, serving as a secure backup of the music bought from Amazon, free of charge.
  • Amazon scans customers' iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries (I don't put mine in either of these libraries), matching the music on the computers to Amazon's 20 million song catalog.

      Any matches, even if purchased from iTunes or ripped from CDs "are instantly made available in Cloud Player and are upgraded for free to high-quality 256 Kbps audio.

      Music that customers have already uploaded to Cloud Players also will be upgraded."
It seems to me that any imported MP3s that had been in the old free drive might now be seen as part of the Cloud Player's storage and playback of songs up to the subscription limit OR it might be left alone and still stored on the Cloud Drive with no playback possible (as only Cloud Player can play it back).  Cloud Player has been separated from Cloud Drive, but it too is Free if you use space for no more than 250 imported songs.

MY question:  can you just store music files in the free 5-gig general storage with no intention of playback?  The Cloud Player is for music that you want to store AND play back.

  Other new aspects of Cloud Player, which is now available in two tiers: "Free" and "Premium."
  • Cloud Player Free customers
      .  can store all mp3's purchased from Amazon at no cost and also
      .  import, store, and play back up to 250 songs from PC or Mac to Cloud Player, at no charge.
  • Cloud Player Premium customers ($25/year)
      .  can store all mp3's purchased from Amazon at no cost and also
      .  import, store, and play back up to 250,000 songs in Cloud Player, at no further charge.
  In both cases, any Amazon-purchased mp3's are not counted against the limits of either plan.

  HOWEVER, though their press release doesn't mention it, their Manage your Cloud page also shows (at least for me) a NON-Free and NON-Premium category:
  20 GB of file storage space + Cloud Player w/ up to 250 imported songs, at $10.00/year
  That provides an additional 15 GB of file storage space over the Free plan.

That's confusing.   The $10/yr plan should have a label between Free and Premium, as it costs less than the premium $25/yr+ plans because it provides 20 Gigs of storage space but allows only 250 non-Amazon-purchased mp3s ("imported") rather than 250,000.

  The new Cloud Player features were to be automatically delivered to Kindle Fire users during the week following the July 31 announcement.
  Customers can also visit the Amazon Cloud Player page on the web or download the app on iOS or Android.

UPDATE 8/6, evening
I neglected to mention the "Importer File Formats"
Amazon's "Importing Music into Cloud Player" page has a section on these.

  Supported File Types: (See asterisk explanation below.)
  .  .mp3 -- Standard non-DRM file format
  .  .m4a -- AAC files (Windows and Mack, including iTunes store purchased files)
                and Apple lossless files* (Mac OS only)
  .  .wma* -- Windows Media Audio files (Windows only)
  .  .wav* -- Uncompressed music files
  .  .ogg* -- Ogg Vorbis audio files
  .  .flac* -- Free Lossless Audio Codec files
  .  .aiff* -- Audio Interchange Audio Format

*  For starred items: Only eligible files that match Amazon's catalog can be imported.

You can see more on this at the Music Import page

Starting July 31, 2012:
  Cloud Drive is being used for general file storage and
  Cloud Player will be used for music storage and playback.

  Amazon recommends the Cloud Drive "learnmore" page to learn how to get started on Cloud drive.

About Amazon MP3
  Per the same press release, Amazon's MP3 Store has over 20 million songs with everyday low prices on best-selling albums.
  "All Amazon MP3s are DRM-free, work on just about any mp3-playing device and can be played from Cloud Player on Kindle Fire, Android phones and tablets, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macs and Pcs.
  Customers can also access the MP3 store via the iHeartRadio, Shazam, TuneIn Radio and SoundHound Android apps."

The 3 types of  *Free*  Amazon server storage
  .  Amazon's 5 free gigs of Cloud Drive space for Amazon customers, globally,
        for ANY data files, plus
  .  Another 5 free gigs for Kindle owners' personal documents, plus
  .  Free Cloud Player space for 250 imported music files that can be played back.

  I find that most Kindle owners I talk to don't know that Amazon gives all customers, globally, 5 free gigs of Cloud Drive space for data files of any kind.  That includes videos, photos, documents, and backup of books you didn't buy from Amazon (as long as they're not digital-rights-protected by the publisher/vendor) and any of your personal documents that you'd liked backed up externally.
  It also can include music but this won't be for playback or streaming, as playback is done via Cloud Player, which has separate storage space for music files, which you intend for playback or streaming.

  Amazon also sets aside, for Kindle owners, 5 additional gigs for personal docs -- and this also includes non-Amazon books that are not rights-protected.  This also applies to documents like Word Docs, or web pages sent to the Kindle via various Send-to utilities including Amazon's own.  And recently, Amazon added SYNC'g of the Kindle area personal docs in the way that Kindle books are sync'd between devices.

  Both the general free storage globally and the free personal docs storage and sync'g of them (if you send the latter to Amazon for the Kindle-owner's document storage area) are unique features not found with other e-readers.

I THINK that covers the basics and the changes.  If not, please do add to the Comments area. Thanks!

Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links.
NOTES on newer Kindles.
Updated Kindle Fire Basic  7" tablet - $159
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB - $199/$249
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 16/32GB - $299/$369
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G 32/64GB - $499/$599
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $69/$89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $99/$139
Kindle Paperwhite, 3G/WiFi - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free but slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

  For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
Temporarily-free books - Non-classics
USA: by:
   Publication Date  
   Bestselling   High-ratings

UK: PubDate   Popular
The Kindle Daily Deal
What is 3G? and "WiFi"?       Battery Care
Highly-rated under $1,  Newest: $1-$2, $2-$3
Most Popular Free K-Books
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
   Top 100 free
   Top 100 free
USEFUL for your Kindle Keyboard(U.S. only, currently):
  99c Notepad 1.1,   99c Calculator,
  99c Calendar,   99c Converter

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  1. ill admit... im pretty PO'ed about this change. my free cloud drive account expired a few days before this change, and i had just re-upped to the $50 a year plan, then they do this.

    i didnt give a damn about the cloud drive portion of the service, i just wanted the cloud player. if i had known they were going to split them, id have only paid for the cloud player part.


    1. Anonymous,
      They split Drive and Player, but the 5Gigs is still free on the Cloud Drive.

      The Cloud Player (at least on MY page) is also free if you stick with only the 5 gigs on the Cloud Drive. That's key (if my page is not abnormal).

      If you re-up'd to the $50/yr plan, you get 100 GB instead of 5 GB with the current pricing and get 250,000 imported songs.

      BUT you can just choose 20 GB and get only 250 imported songs for $10/yr.

      Am I misunderstanding your situation?

    2. Will add another one here.

      The Cloud Player Free option is for 250 imported songs and all Amazon-purchased MP3s.

      The Cloud DRIVE still offers 5 gigs of free storage. You just can't play your music -from- that area now that they've split them.

      If you buy Cloud Player for $10 and up, you get additional music storage. Only 250 imported songs still, for a $10/yr charge, and 250,000 imported songs if you buy additional storage.

      They separated the two but keep them together in the info box.
      HIGHLY unclear. But they're combining the information.

      The $10/yr seems to be in a no-man's or no-person's land, with no label for it, neither free nor premium.

  2. I currently have 'Cloud Drive 20 GB Promo' and 'Cloud Player Premium' by virtue of something I did a year ago. It is about to downgrade to the 5GB/250song free plan. I never used the storage, or uploaded any music (as it is almost all from CDs ripped to lossless AAC and they don't accept that, and I didn't want to undertake the export project).

    Good thing: the downgrade would have meant I'd lose access after 'a limited time' which they fail to specify. (actually I don't see that they'd enforce this beyond denying further uploads, after all they still offer 5GB+250songs for free, but there's no way to say WHICH 5Gb or WHICH 250 songs...

    Everybody is pushing the cloud storage thing but right now my money is staying in my pocket. The advantages of having a collection of ebooks in the cloud are obvious, but easily accommodated by 'free' data storage levels. It's not obvious that I need my music or video in the cloud, especially if there is some recurring charge to it.

    1. Tom,
      You and I are in the same boat. My 20gig deal is up soon and I never used it for non-Amazon music.

      They DO accept AAC now - that may be one of the changes. See "Importing Your Music" at the Importing Music page.

      What is a 'song' when it's classical music? A movement? Some can be 20 minutes long :-)

      If it's been in your general free 5GB area was streamable but now wouldn't be? That's what I take from it. But if we want playback on the imported mp3s or AAC (a format which I should mention and will later in yet another update), it'd then be one of the 250 songs. How do they decide what is what?

  3. Good point about the classical music, never even gave that a thought Andrys. Tom, I totally understand what you're saying, the only reason I use the service is that I've had one too many HD failures and for me it's one way to make sure I don't lose my music, ripped or otherwise. That's a lot of work. @Anonymous, I'd call Amazon, and tell them, they may cut you a break.

    Randall (Golf11)

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Randall. Anonymous (1) wrote a note that confused me. S/he gets, for $50 that was paid before this happened, add'l space for up to 250,000 songs but also gets 100 gigs of general storage space. What am I missing about this that might be bad? (I realize I may be missing something easy for others to spot.)

      Was it that there was a 1-yr promo for unlimited space? That was clearly going to be over, but the willingness to get the $50 plan for Cloud Drive seems to get as much as was received before under paid plans earlier.

      Well, let me know what I'm missing. It has to be something. OH, it could be that one can't play back the music files that make you exceed 250,000 songs... Hmmm.

  4. I've been experimenting with Amazon's newly updated cloud storage for music. My main interest was to update all my lower quality mp3's to 256 kbps. I've uploaded several of my lower quality songs to Amazon...then tried to download them to see if any were upgraded. So far, not one song has been upgraded. I get the exact same song with the same KBPS that I sent up. On one set, I even checked to see if they had a high quality MP3's available for purchase...and they did. But that is not what I got back.

    And there seems to be no way to see the KBPS once they are in the cloud. You get very little information on the cloud site. Needless to say, I am quite disappointed. I use iTunes to catalog all my music and have an iPod Classic for playback (works great on my new Ford Sync equipped car). When I download from Amazon, it opens iTunes automatically, but no music is imported into it, even though Amazon says it has done so.

    As I said, I am extremely disappointed in this new service, but will keep experimenting.

  5. Update - I continue to experiment with Amazon's Cloud Storage, specifically seeing if songs are upgraded to 256, as they advertise. I have had a few successes, but still am not pleased with the results. Today, I sent 5 specific songs up to their cloud. I chose these as they had low bit-rates AND all 5 had MP3 versions on line. 4 came back unchanged, and one came back upgraded.

    Yesterday I uploaded 4 tunes from the same album (again, the album was listed in their MP3 section). Two came back upgraded, one may have been upgraded, but at a very low bit rate, and one was not upgraded at all. Again, all were from the same album.

    At this point, I am sad at the results I am getting. It appears Amazon needs to work on their system of upgrading to 256 Mbps. I will not be sending them $25 at this time...but will keep experimenting.

  6. Another this is all very strange. Yesterday, I told you about sending 5 songs to Amazon and only one was upgraded. I double checked the 4 downloaded files on the My Music and they were not upgraded. I also viewed the "Recently Added" section of iTunes after the downloads were complete and the four songs were not listed.

    Later in the day, I was back in iTunes doing some work and I looked in the "Recently Added" section again...and lo and behold, the 4 songs were listed there and all were upgraded. However two of the songs which were recorded at a very low rate, were only upgraded to 128...but still a major improvement, so am not bitching. I have no idea how this all happened.

    Another odd thing...I did another complete scan, this time choosing one particular album that had 11 songs. Only 9 were listed as being available to be uploaded. Why not all 11? They are from the same album. Upon downloading, only 3 of the 9 showed up in iTunes as being upgraded. While I am grateful, it still does not make sense. This mystery is driving me crazy! Will check back later to see if any other songs show up in iTunes.

    1. Jim, I haven't been around much but wanted to ask you to report your problems with this to AND to

      However, I think the initial problems were that they don't do an immediate conversion but do it on a queued basis as a few checks have to be made re availability and also permissions from the publisher of the recordings.

      As for why not all of the 11 cuts in one album, the publishers allow only what they'll allow -- partially to avoid people having the full album if they don't already own it. Amazon is not checking whether we purchased our albums or not.

      As for upgrading, please wait. I think they have to double check rights and then these take time and they have tons of people doing up/downloading and many people streaming, which I understand (streaming only) is not done by most when it comes to streaming what we happen to have on our hard disks... (w/o it having to have been purchased by the entity).

    2. I meant "w/o it having to have been purchased FROM the entity." :-)

      Keep us up to date if you would.


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