Google Music, iTunes Match, and Amazon Cloud Drive: Digital Music Services Comparison

Google Music, iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Drive: Digital Music Services ComparisonWednesday's official launch of Google Music comes right off the heels of Apple's iTunes Match going live.

Apple iTunes MatchThe iTunes Match comes with a $25 yearly fee that you pay to match up your existing music collection with Apple's catalog, move it into the cloud, and then sync it across Mac and iOS devices. ITunes Match even replaces old MP3s with high-quality AAC files in the process.

Amazon Cloud DriveGoogle's new music store--which will sell individual tracks from a library of 8 million that Google hopes to ramp up to 13 million soon--and its free connected cloud storage service also will compete with Amazon's Cloud Drive, which launched in the spring. All three offer slightly different takes on essentially the same concept: Move your whole music collection to the cloud and supplement it with new purchases from a digital store.

Google, Apple and Amazon's offerings are not quite created equal, however. To help you understand what's going on, here's a chart that compares the features of all three services.

Major Cloud Music Services Comparison

FeatureiTunes with MatchAmazon CloudGoogle Music
Cost for new tracks $.69 - $1.29 $.99 - $1.29 $0.99 - $1.29
Album costs Most are $9.99 Mostly $7.99 and up $9.99 and under
Cost for cloud service 24.95/year 5 GB free, or $1/year per GB for 20 -1,000 GB Free
Sharing Some via Ping, Facebook; not a strong point None Via Google+ Circles
Total Tracks Over 20 million Over 17 million Soon to be 13 million
Major music labels on board 4 4 3
Indie labels Many, but some have opted out of Match Lots Lots, but less than Amazon and iTunes
Audio quality 256 kbps 256 kbps 320 Kbps
Upload required for cloud service? Only for songs not in iTunes catalog Yes, unless purchased from Amazon Yes
DRM No No No
File types Converts all to AAC MP3 MP3
Compatibility iOS Devices, PCs PCs, Android devices, Kindle Fire Purchase music on PC only, mobile app update coming soon
Devices iOS Android, Kindle Android
Storage limit 25,000 song limit for Match Limited by amount of space purchased 20,000 songs in Music locker
Exceptions? Songs from iTunes store don't count against the limit. 1,000 track limit on free 5GB plan Google Music purchases don't count against the limit.
Streaming? Listen while downloading Yes Yes
Download to devices? Yes Yes Yes
Song previews 90 seconds 30 seconds 90 seconds
Purchase point iTunes Amazon Store Android Market
Musician services Not so much Not directly; works with third party labels and distributors Indie artists can sell and promote songs
Unique feature Replaces all files, even old, low-quality MP3s, with 256kbps AAC Buy one Amazon album, get a free upgrade to 20GB of space Google+ contacts can listen to your tracks free, one time

In Video: Google's Next Targets: iTunes and Amazon Music

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