Best Buy launches cloud music service with silly restrictions

Not to be outdone by Apple, Google, or Amazon, Best Buy has decided to launch their own music service.  The service, called Best Buy Music Cloud, allows users to upload their music and access it via computer, phone, or tablet.  While it’s nice to see Best Buy at least making an attempt to keep up with other music services, their system comes with a number of restrictions and caveats.

Best Buy’s cloud system gives users the choice between two options, free or premium.  The free package allows access to the web player only.  If a free account holder accesses their account via a phone they can only listen to 30 seconds of each of their tracks.  This is kind of baffling especially considering Amazon and Apple are both offering free versions of their services, providing streaming access to phones and tablets.  What’s more, the free version is the only one accessible on Apple devices.  The website explicitly states “Premium service is not available on Apple devices.”

The premium service will run you $3.99 a month and will allow you to listen to your full tracks on a mobile device (instead of just a 30 second clip).  What the website doesn’t make clear is how much storage the free version provides and what you get for the $3.99/month premium version aside from the actual ability to listen to your full tracks.

Even more offensive than the 30 second restriction on the free version is the necessity to use iTunes.  You read that correctly, the software will only interact with iTunes for music uploads.  Once the small application is installed (either on Mac OS or Windows) it will look for your iTunes folder and scan that.  If you don’t have iTunes installed or choose to manage your music with another application (which you should probably be doing on Windows), you are completely out of luck.  There is no option to upload from a Windows Media Player folder.  Also absent is the option to just select a folder of music for upload.

Unfortunately that doesn’t end the list of drawbacks.  Another issue is the inability to install the Android app for the service.  It seems that currently only certain phones will allow the app to be installed.  What’s even more frustrating is that you’ll have to register the phone via Best Buy’s web interface for Music Cloud before installing the app.  After those two things are accomplished, Best Buy will apparently send an email or text to the phone to activate it for the service.  It’s ridiculously frustrating to try and get things working with Best Buy’s service, especially considering how simple and smooth the process is for Amazon’s cloud service.

The restrictions on the free version and the necessity of having iTunes installed makes this service completely useless for the time being.  Unless Best Buy can offer a smoother interface, more options for uploading, free accessibility of your library on a mobile device, and more storage than competitors, there’s just no reason to even bother with this service over Amazon, Apple, or Google.  If Best Buy can’t make Music Cloud more on par with what’s already on the market, it’s not even something worth exploring.