Dusting off your CD collection couldn’t hurt either. Most people have forgotten to rip at least a disc or two at some point, and having the ‘originals’ handy will be useful for the next step.
Do Some Spring (File) Cleaning
With a centralized catalog in place, it’s time to size up the state of the musical union. Does your library contain antiquated DRMed files? Low bit-rate audio from your early (or storage-challenged) days of ripping and/or filesharing? Now is the time to remedy these outlying quirks by replacing, reformatting, or just re-ripping the files in question. After all, nothing ruins a streaming playlist faster than jarring shifts in audio quality from track to track.
PRO TIP: Once you’ve gussied up your files, it’s worth noting how much hard disk space your entire catalog occupies. This info will come in handy later when you’re choosing a streaming service.
Choose Your Cloud
Big players like Google, Amazon, and Apple all have some flavor of music streaming service and the mechanics are largely the same: you sign up, upload your music, and then download the complimentary mobile/desktop app to stream your library without having to worry about keeping the files on-hand.
However, they’re not all created equal. While some offer a small amount of storage to start (with additional room for purchase), others only provide a flat number of files that can be uploaded (regardless of individual size). And, though each service comes with a complimentary mobile app, the features and UI can vary a great deal.
Our suggestion is to take a couple albums and upload them to each service you’re considering. Doing so will give you a rough idea of how the app functions and manages a library, while also giving you a rough idea of whether the interface suits your style.
PRO TIP: Alternatives to the big guys can be found–if you know where to look. Plain vanilla cloud storage services like DropBox and ZumoDrive are just as capable (and occasionally cheaper), though slightly less music-minded.
Now that you’re armed with a digital locker for tunes, it’s time to upload. Try to time the bulk of your uploading during hours of low net congestion. In most cases the 11:00pm to 6:00am window is a good bet.
Leave Room to Grow
Though streaming services are great for stashing the music you own, they’re still somewhat clunky when it comes to recommending, sampling, and purchasing new stuff. A good way to remedy this is to bolster your chosen streaming app with a subscription service like Rdio, MOG, or Grooveshark.
Added expense aside (typically $5-$9 a month), these services give you all the benefits of the cloud (no need to download files) with the added bonus of providing a heap of new, licensed music.
Source: Wired News