The MP3 download store MP3tunes has launched an innovative new service that allows you to copy your entire iTunes library to its servers, and then listen to your music through any web browser.
The new ‘Music Locker’ service comes in two flavours – a free version that allows you to stream low-quality streams of music you’re found on the web, and a $40-per-year subscription service that gives you unlimited server space and allows high-quality (196kbps) streams of your music to any web browser or copy of iTunes using the downloadable Oboe plug-in.
Of course, the premium version doubles as a rather useful online backup of your digital music – a useful feature when you consider that iTunes and many of its rivals are unlikely to resupply tracks you’ve purchased in the event of, say, a catastrophic drive failure. It also allows you to synchronise your music library over multiple machines.
And yes, the service will play copy-protected files – just as long as the machine you want to listen to them on is authorised by your download service.
The Music Locker scheme is the brainchild of Michael Robertson, who fell foul of the music industry when he tried a similar scheme with MP3.com five years ago.
There is a difference between MyMP3.com and the new MP3tunes service, though – the latter broke the law because MP3.com ripped and uploaded the music themselves, allowing people who already owned the CDs to access the files on MP3.com’s servers.
This time around, it’s the user’s own files that are (laboriously) uploaded to the servers at MP3tunes – at a rate of around 200 songs an hour, depending on the breadth of your broadband connection. And you can only log two computers into your online library at any one time, so you can’t share your music with friends (or, worse, the world). It remains to be seen whether this will placate a jittery music industry.
We’ll have a full review of the service just as soon as we’ve finished uploading our 80GB library. Don’t hold your breath.