Best Buy Gets into Cloud Music with an Impenetrable Mess

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Like a blind oaf, Best Buy has stumbled into the cloud music arena. What Best Buy hasn’t done is given you any clear reasons to pay attention to this service in the first place.

From start to finish, Best Buy Music Cloud is a mess. Its product page gives you a vague sense of what the service offers — sync your music to the cloud and listen to it anywhere — but doesn’t specify what you get for free and what you get as a premium subscriber. (According to Engadget, there will be a $4 per month plan that provides some still-undisclosed benefits.)

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If you want to get acquainted with the service, you’ve got to hand over your name and e-mail address, and then download software that runs in the background, forever monitoring your music library. I’m sorry, but if you have to download software to make the service work, you’ve missed the point of cloud music. Amazon’s Cloud Player, at least, gives users the option of uploading individual tracks without the use of a software manager. With Best Buy, you’ve just got to trust that everything works, and then install a big piece of bloatware on your PC that, by default, runs at startup.

By the way, the software didn’t work for me. It’s unable to scan my music library, forever stuck at a status message that says “pre-registering.” Because there’s no documentation with the software, I’ll never even know what that means.

But let’s say I was able to load my music into the cloud. Then I’d be able to listen to the songs from anywhere, right? Wrong. To listen on smartphones, you’ve got to register each handset by handing over its make, model and phone number. Then Best Buy e-mails you a link to the application by text message, and you have to activate the phone by downloading the app and plugging in a confirmation code. Oh, and an app for Apple devices isn’t available yet, even though Best Buy’s PC software relies on iTunes to sync your library.

That’s when I gave up and uninstalled Best Buy Music Cloud from my computer. If cloud music is going to take off, it needs to be frictionless. So far, this service is the opposite.

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