Cloud music storage

How to store your music in the cloud

Music in the cloud

The history of recorded music is also a history of recording formats; that is, different ways of using technology to record music we want to repeatedly listen to.

Early formats were physical objects which were inserted into playback equipment (gramophones, vinyl record players). Home computers and mobile devices added a new way: storing music as files such as MP3s on those devices, and playing them without handling physical formats. The Internet lent a further development; the streaming of any music from a remote catalogue. Suddenly, vast music libraries were accessible.

This latter trend toward renting access to a catalogue has the upside of being able to access a vast majority of the mainstream, released music that is out there. But some listeners prefer to store their own music, sometimes down to necessity (for example, it might be music created by the listener, and not all music is available to rent) and sometimes down to preference; some listeners are collectors who prefer to curate and shape their own musical experiences.

Using the cloud for music storage

The term “cloud” is rather vague; but basically it means remotely accessible data and services accessed online, via the Internet. In our musical case, it means making music libraries available worldwide so that they can be managed, organised, secured and, of course, played.

Why would you store music in the cloud? If I’m creating and recording music using a computer, why not just store it on the computer? Well, you can. However, there are a number of advantages to storing music online:

  • The music is available globally, making it easy to play wherever you are, or share new creations.
  • If you choose to use a cloud storage service most of the technical administration is handled for you.
  • Cloud storage has tools, available from the storage provider or third parties, that make management of the music easier.

This guide is primarily focused on playing owned cloud music libraries. That is, libraries owned by you and stored in the cloud.

Music collectors, rareties, non-mainstream genres and the cloud

Music collectors typically have an interest in specific musical recordings and releases. For example, some Beatles records were released in mono and stereo versions; a music collector may want both. Some records are released and re-released with different track listings and different cover artwork; again a music collector is often interested in collecting both.

Streaming services, over which the music listener has little control, are not well positioned to serve this need. Music can be uploaded but this can reduce the convenience of the service, and navigation of the music library needs to be built with collecting in mind. For example, if the collector has multiple copies of the same album, some distinguishing label may be required for the listener to choose between the albums when they want to play something.

Sometimes this goes beyond music collecting. Sometimes certain releases are rare and not offered elsewhere, and some genres are considered non-mainstream and might simply not be covered well by alternative means, so a cloud music service would require upload of music so that it can be played.

Listening to music in the cloud, fundamentally, should not restrict what music can be played, but a trade-off with convenience may be required.

If the music you want to listen to is not available on a streaming service, you will have to provide it yourself via the cloud, if you want to stream it anywhere.

Music creators

There are many types of music creator; producers, mixers, samplers, instrumentalists, singers and more. As they are the originators of the music, that music cannot be sourced from a rented catalogue, so the creator needs some way of storing their music.

Typically, in addition to the basic storage of the music these creations will have to be organised, tagged and classified in ways to allow for easy retrieval later.

In this guide we’ll cover:

Cloud music services

There are several different ways of storing music online, in the cloud. Some are rented services, some are do-it-yourself.

The common aim for all these approaches is to make music accessible across the Internet, so you can stream or access a music library wherever you are.

Generic storage services

Generic storage services are online storage services that can be used for all types of data, including music.

In this market, there are a lot of well-known names. Big tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Dropbox, and some specialised smaller companies, offer storage services where you rent space to store your files, including music files. Typically there’s a small amount of free space, but most music libraries will probably go above this.

The methods by which you access your storage differs between providers. Almost all of them provide a Web UI that you can use to upload, download and organise your files. In general, the tools used for each service tend to be proprietary, which means specialised tools are required for each service. Common other tools are synchronisation software, so that you can synchronise your files between your devices and the storage service. Once uploaded to the service, online tools allow you to perform other tasks such as backups, versioning and more.

Some providers also integrate storage with other apps. For example, Google Drive is a generic storage service, but there’s also the Google Workspace Marketplace, which allows apps to be registered to work on your files. By default you can open documents in Google Docs, spreadsheets in Google Sheets and more. Microsoft’s OneDrive, and other players, have similar functionality.

Hot and cold cloud storage

A big differentiator between cloud storage services is whether they are ‘hot’ or ‘cold’. Hot cloud storage is storage that is optimised for constant access - reading or writing to storage with high throughput and at unpredictable times. Cold cloud storage is typically read/written infrequently and, when it is, isn’t particularly fast. Hot cloud storage is ideal for when you want to stream a music library, because you don’t know when you want to listen to music, or you do so frequently, and when you do you want the music delivered very quickly. Cold cloud storage is more useful for cases like backup. It’s more restrictive, generally can’t be used for ad-hoc access, but on the upside it tends to be cheaper per byte.

Where this becomes particularly important is cost. Some storage services charge egress fees, which basically means a fee for the data transferred from the service. With moderately high capacity demands, working with music libraries, especially streaming hi-fi quality audio from lossless files rather than MP3, can work out expensive on such plans.

Online music storage comparison table

So, for cost and functionality, what are the most attractive generic cloud storage services?

Autosync software Egress cost ($/GB) Free storage (GB) Hot/cold Storage cost / TB / yr ($)
Amazon S3 0.09 5 Hot 276
Backblaze B2 0 10 Hot 72
Backblaze personal 0 5 Cold 99
Dropbox 0 2 Hot 59.94
Google Drive 0 15 Hot 39.99
Hetzner 0 5 Hot 41.88
MEGA Free up to 16TB 20 Hot 54.52
OneDrive (Microsoft 365) 0 5 Hot 69.99
Wasabi 0 0 Hot 83.88
iDrive 0 0 Cold 19.9
pCloud 0 10 Hot 49.99

Last modified: 18th March 2024

Music ’lockers’

Music ’lockers’ are online storage for music where the service is specialised for music libraries. In some cases these services are standalone, and in other cases the lockers are built into wider music streaming services so that the locker can be accessed alongside

The upside of music lockers is that they tend to be faster to get started with for music. Because music tools, like music players, playlist editors and more are already provided it’s quicker to get started rather than having to select equivalent tools and work out how to connect them to other storage services.

The key downside to music lockers is that, because they are specialised, there are fewer apps and services that can work with them. In most cases, you’re stuck with the tools the music locker service provides. In some cases this is fine.

Another downside of music lockers is that many of them, mainly those which are part of wider music streaming services, also have limits to how much you can store. This limits their usefulness for music library owners.

Music locker comparison table

Which of the music lockers make sense for your requirements? We’ve composed a table below.

Free storage Maximum storage Monthly subscription ($) Online rented catalogue Platform restrictions
Apple iTunes Match None 100,000 files, 200MB file size 2.08 None Apple ecosystem only
AudioBox None Unlimited 0.99 (5GB) - 19.99 (200GB) None None
Deezer None 2,000 files 11.99 90m tracks None
MediaLeap 1TB Unlimited 0 - 5.00 None None
Vox None Unlimited 4.99 None Apple devices and Sonos only
YouTube Music 100,000 files 100,000 files 10.99 100m tracks None
iBroadcast Unlimited Unlimited Free - 3.99 None None

Last modified: 18th March 2024

Self-hosted storage

A final option is to do-it-yourself and host-it-yourself.

This means storing your music on disks you own, typically hosted at your home or office. With an Internet connection, and a properly configured router and server software, you can make the music library available to the Internet.

Self-hosted illustration


The upside of this is total control, and a probably reduction in costs because most software is free of charge (and typically open source).

The considerable downside is that there are risks in terms of security and your time. Of course, security risks exist with the other types of storage services too, but in this case the responsibility is on you.

Arguably, and depending on the semantics you wish to employ, this solution is not a cloud solution. But still, it does leverage the Internet to create an online music library that you can access anywhere.

Consumer NAS

It’s worth mentioning a subset of self-hosted storage: NAS. Network Attached Storage (NAS) are devices which are basically hard drives that you connect to your own network. They combine basic server computers with hard drives in a case which you can add or remove. They feature operating systems, typically accessed via a Web UI, where you can administer your storage, set up security and more.

NAS really gets powerful when you exploit the power of the computation on the device and install music services such as these packages for Synology.

Typical NAS manufacturers are Synology, QNAP and ASUSTOR.

Ever more niche, and just as there’s a musically-specialised version of generic online cloud storage for music in the form of music lockers, there’re now also musically-focused NAS devices. These are sometimes called music servers and example products exist from Innuos, Lumin and Melco. These are often audiophile grade devices, so you can expect to pay considerably more for them.

Self hosted music storage comparison table

This is the most varied category - different software can help you share your music in different ways. We’ve collected a list of the main alternatives. We haven’t included generic computation platforms here, such as Amazon EC2/Lightsail which essentially offer computers in the cloud; all the alternatives below need to be specific storage or music storage/serving software.

App FTP Subsonic Type Web UI WebDAV
Funkwhale Music server/sharing
Navidrome Music server
Nextcloud Files Generic storage
Plex Media server
Roon Music server

Last modified: 18th March 2024

Note that if you are self-hosting these services it’s also implied that you will be able to open additional services to meet your requirements. For example, if music software you install doesn’t support serving your music using a given protocol, it may be possible for you to add that as a separate service.

Moving music to the cloud

Once you’ve selected where you will store your music, how do you move your music there?

Typically this is known as “uploading” your music - the reverse of “downloading” (when you copy data from the storage service back to your local computer).

Synchronisation - download, upload

Each storage service tries to make file transfer and synchronisation as easy as possible; it’s the basic function of the service.

However, some make it easier than others and you can expect this to vary proportionally to how easy (technically) it is to administer the service yourself. For example, the generic, “hot”, big-tech storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox come with automatic synchronisation software while, if you self-host your infrastructure, you may have to select separate software to do the job.

Those “hot” generic storage services’ synchronisation software work in a similar way. Typically, the software denotes a folder, or creates some location, on your local computer’s hard drive. Then, any files moved from your computer to that location are uploaded into the storage service. If any other computers are connected to the same storage account, the software running on those computers will see the new data that is uploaded and then download it. The end result should be mirrored and sychronised files. The beauty of this approach is that you can then, in theory, treat the music files that are synchronised on your computer as your music library in the cloud. You can play the files, re-arrange them, re-organise them and delete them, and any changes should be reflected in your cloud storage too.

It’s a little different for the “cold” services. Such services are generally used for different use cases than ad hoc file access. The most common example of this is backups. In this scenario, backup software is generally used and it’s customised for the purpose of backup. For example, scheduling would be built in so that music is only backed up at certain times. Downloading is, in this scenario, a rare event, and so you don’t have synchronisation, as such, here - just scheduled upload and versioning of the music library. As such, synchronisation is generally not possible with “cold” and backup storage services so they are not considered much further here.

Music locker software is typically somewhere between the two, although it is service-dependent. Typically, the cloud storage is taken as the “gold” version of the music library and the source-of-truth. As such, the process of getting music into your music cloud is generally communicated as “upload” rather than synchronisation with multiple devices.

File synchronisation illustration


That’s the theory. In practice, a music library is a large chunk of data. This means it can take a long time to upload an entire music library (depending on the size of the library, the throughput of the Internet connection and the speed of the receiving storage service, of course). Furthermore, some software may work “lazily” and, although they appear to have synchronised files, only download the file contents once the file is actually requested for the first time. This can create problems for software if the synchronisation software does not detect the file is being opened, perhaps because the requesting software is opening it via some unexpected method.

It should be emphasised that synchronisation and the creation of these ‘mirrors’ of your music library is not a true backup strategy. Yes, it provides redundancy and can get you out of a scrape in some cases. But there’s not necessarily any versioning of files, which means if damage occurs to a library (such as the deletion of files) this will spread to the copies too. Only if you have the concept of “snapshots” and being able to roll back to a previous version can you get yourself out of such situations.

Useful synchronisation tools

In addition to the software provided by the storage service, there are a bunch of useful tools you can use to make synchronisation, download and upload easier.


rclone boasts exceptional support for multiple different backend storage services. It concentrates on providing basic file operations, like copying and moving files and folders, onto cloud storage services. It can make such services look like your computer’s own storage. This means it can be used with other software to implement services like backup.

From there it adds extra functionality for synchronisation (both one- and two-way). The nice thing about rclone is that you only need it on the machine you are performing the operations from.


Syncthing is more oriented towards synchronisation specifically and local networks, although it is possible to use it over the Internet too. It’s a little more complicated to setup because you need to install it at all locations that files are syncrhonised too.

There is an official Syncthing app for mobile devices. This means you can sync your music library from your local cloud storage onto your phone so that, when you are offline, you can still access your files.

You could use Syncthing in combination with rclone (thus making use of rclone’s storage support) by pointing Syncthing at an rclone folder.

Acquiring new music

Adding new music to a cloud music library is a special case of synchronisation/upload. As well as uploading the music onto the storage service, you first have to acquire new music.

There are multiple ways of doing this. Perhaps the most straightforward way is to purchase music, for download, from online stores. Although, at the time of writing, streaming is by far the most popular way of listening to music, there are still plenty of online shops that sell music for download. Amongst the most popular are:

  • 7Digital
  • HDTracks
  • Bleep
  • Bandcamp
  • Deezer
  • Qobuz
  • Amazon Music
  • iTunes

Once you have purchased music from a store, it can be downloaded onto your computer, and from there you follow the same procedure as with synchronisation. If you are using automatic synchronisation software from your cloud storage service, it may be as simple as just dropping it into the synchronised folder. If you’re using a music locker which only offers upload functionality, you should perform that upload, possibly manually.

Before you go ahead, though, it’s probably worth checking our advice on organising cloud music libraries; it tends to be better to get the organisation right first, before uploading because editing existing, already-integrated music can sometimes be a little more work (the music service needs to “forget” about the old files and music).

Streaming music from the cloud

Actually playing music that you’ve stored in online cloud storage services is… well, kinda the whole point, right? In fact, it’s so important we wrote a dedicated page about how to play music from the cloud.

There are two main approaches. Either the music is directly streamed and played, or the music is first synchronised to a local device, and the music player then plays that synchronised music.

Check out our dedicated article linked above for more detail and ways in which you can stream music from your own online storage. We’ve even provided free tools so you can test this working for Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive.

Managing your cloud music library

Once you’ve uploaded your music library to cloud storage and you’ve tested you can actually play it it’s not the end of the story. For any non-trivial library, this library has to be maintained and managed. This is the key price of music library ownership. Whilst we gain by controlling our library, we need to make sure we don’t spend too long managing our library that it impacts our enjoyment of it.


Security is all about ensuring the integrity of a music library. That is, the risk of unintentional changes being made to the library are kept to a minimum.

“Unintentional” here is maybe a little vague; we often hear about malicious attacks on our data, and so naturally this is what first springs to mind when we consider what we want to avoid by securing our library. But in reality damage can often occur from non-malicious events, such as operator error or errant or misunderstood tools, services or software that make changes we aren’t happy about.

There are two main ways of thinking about this. The first is minimisation. How do we adopt practices and technology such that the chance of an unintentional change is less likely? The second is mitigation. If the worst happens, what can we do next to reduce the impact?

Security illustration


If you’ve chosen to adopt self-hosting as your approach to storing your music online this section is especially important. Most third-party cloud storage services offer defaults and functionality to help you manage the security of your music library (although it’s still possible to get yourself into trouble, of course). Self-hosted software may do to, but the extra configurability and quantity of attack vectors make this approach one in which you need to think through security with extra vigour. One area not mentioned below that self-hosters need to be aware of is software and patch management; ensuring the latest, most secure versions of software are in use.


Does it really mean much for a music library to be “stolen”? On the face of it, if someone copied your music library elsewhere without your permission and took no further action, is that a problem?

It could be. Other than just revealing your more… embarrassing… musical tastes and favourites, a music library is not just a collection of audio. It also includes metadata. Metadata (in this case, data about your music collection) can be stored in multiple forms: embedded in music files, stored in co-located database files, and more. This could potentially include private information including user defined comments about music or its provenance, or more.

Storage level access control

The first obvious starting point is the standard advice: guard your login credentials (usernames and passwords) strongly. Don’t share them and change passwords often. Don’t re-use passwords. Take heed of data compromises and act as a result.

Many storage services offer approachs to permissions where music can be shared between different users of the storage service. Typically this works as a copied view of the music, so sharees are not able to destroy data. However, some setups may permit this, so the permissions built into the service should be used to assign appropriate access levels.


Ideally, data should be exchanged encrypted, point-to-point, between the music library source and the device working on the music. Further to that, the music itself should be encrypted at rest meaning that where the music is ultimately stored it should be encrypted to avoid attacks at the file system level.

If you’re using an online cloud music storage service like those above, these considerations tend to be handled for you. However, self-hosted music library owners should take heed of this. Consider:

  • Transfer protocols. For example, plain FTP is not encrypted and would be a poor choice.
  • Storage encryption. Encrypt filesystems so that attackers cannot read the contents of your music library.


Backups are the default mitigation strategy. In the event of damage or loss to a music library, a backup is a “backstop” to recreating your library back to its cohesive form.

Put simply, for any music library that is non-trivial in its recreation, backups are a must. The good news is that this is an area where having a cloud based music library can really shine.

There are three main things to decide with backups: where, when and how.

Where to store music library backups

“Where” identifies where the backups should be stored. To an extent, this is limited by your choice of cloud music storage. If you choose cold music storage with a cloud backup service… well, that’s your backup right there. These services are oriented around backup and have all the functionality you would require to make sure you can always restore a last-good copy of your collection.

Similarly, if you choose one of the hot cloud music storage services, backups tend to be built in with versioning of files. This, though, tends to be more limited. For example, OneDrive will allow deleted files to be recovered, but only for 90 days. Full versioning of files is not possible. For this reason, you should review what your storage service offers, and possible couple the service with some more fully featured backup solution.

If you choose to self host your music library though, it’s up to you to decide whether to store your backups locally or remotely on the Internet. If you take the backups locally, perhaps onto removable media, you should at least locate that media separate to your hosting setup to avoid physical issues (e.g. fire) affecting your library.

How often cloud music library backups should be taken

“When” covers how often the backups are taken. The ideal answer to this is as often as possible, but this might be costly, particularly if you are performing full mirrored backups on each cycle.

Backups illustration


How should backups be stored of music libraries in the cloud?

The way in which backups are taken - the “how” - can also be different depending on your preferences, constraints and the tools you use. Backups could either be automatic or manual, but generally automatic is better because it removes an element of human frailty. In addition, the way backups are taken can change - it can either be a full “mirror” of your music library, or it could be an incremental backup where changes since the last mirror are uploaded.

Typically this all adds up to some form of versioning, so you can roll back to your music library at some point in the past. This is important because sometimes damage can creep into your music library which you don’t notice and gets replicated in your backups. If you can selectively trace back for individual files to points in time, that makes your backups really powerful and means you can very efficiently restore your last-good version.

The most important consideration

Once you’ve created your backups, it’s important to test them. A backup routine is not much good if, when you need it most, you can’t actually recover your files, so a cursory recovery test every now and then is important.

The most important thing is to implement some form of backup routine. Anything tends to be better than nothing, and even if it’s suboptimal you may find yourself very glad you put something in place, and that something can always be improved later.

Self hosted backup tools

Backup is most tricky for self hosted music libraries, so here are a few reputable and frequently used tools you can use to implement backups and redundancy in your self-hosted music library setup.


We mentioned rclone as a good synchronisation tool earlier but this can also be used to at least provide a full mirror of a library elsewhere. This is not a very robust backup strategy (for example, damage will be imported into a music library and there’s no versioning) but it’s better than nothing.

Also, rclone’s support for multiple cloud storage services is quite unparalleled.


Onto the dedicated backup tools. restic is a command line app for backing up files. It can backup remotely onto cloud storage, perform full snapshots and versioning, and more.


Borg is similar and is more oriented around daily, frequent backups. Its approach is more as a de-duplicating backup, which basically means, given a sequence of backups from an original version of a library, how can only changes be stored? When restoring, files are recreated by applying the changes in order.

borg doesn’t have support for external, cloud based services, instead it utilises whatever other tools are available for performing the actual copy of files. It can actually be used in conjuction with (rclone)[#rclone] to perform the store, thus opening up a myriad of cloud services.


Organising a library is about changing its structure and its metadata. This includes aspects such as file paths, the identification of the tracks, releases and more in your collection, and classifications in terms of subjective things like genre, mood and such. All these data help you navigate and search your library, making it much easier to work with.

Ultimately, music libraries are groups of music files and folders, and these can be renamed, updated to suit your requirements. File paths can be edited simply on the file system; in the case of automatically synchronised hot cloud storage these changes should then be replicated to the storage.

Artist, album, track and other information is typically changed in a music tag editor. Here, the information is stored embedded inside the music files themselves. This is how cloud music players know which tracks are in which albums, as well as other classification and grouping mechanisms.

As these organisation procedures are performed on files and folders, that means tools that update music files can be used wherever you have the music files stored. In most cases that means having a copy of the files on a local device.

Some music lockers allow additional functionality to re-organise or re-tag files within their apps. This means you may be able to change the name of an album, or similar. However, these changes are typically not stored back in the music files, which means if you then transfer to a different service your changes won’t persist. For this reason it can be a better idea to re-organise at the file level, rather than with a music locker.

Tools for organising music collections

Here are a few of the common tools that can be used for music library organisation of cloud music libraries (or any music library, for that matter).


Mp3tag is one of the best known music taggers out there. It’s a “Swiss army knife” allowing you to open up all the files in your library and make batch changes across all the files. It only works directly on files, so after you’re done you’ll have to re-upload or re-synchronise the changes back into your cloud storage.


Picard is similar, although special attention is paid to tagging and correcting music information in the library by integrating with MusicBrainz. It does this using audio fingerprinting so that the correct albums, songs and more can be identified as accurately as possible.

Again, Picard works on local files, so the changes must be synchronised


Disclaimer! bliss is written by the same programmers as this site, Astiga.

bliss is a bit different. For starters it’s written in more of a cloud style - being a Web based server. This makes it useful for installing on a server which is really useful in self-hosted setups. Conceivably you could also install it on a virtual server in the cloud and connect it to cloud storage, editing your files there.

In addition, while it allows manual tagging, it’s more written to try to keep your library consistent and correct. It focuses on ‘rules’ which are constraints that your library must obey - for example: all cover art must be a given size, or all genre information must be completed.

Frequently-asked questions

These FAQs cover the questions we most frequently get about music in the cloud.

Can I store music at home and make it available online?

The great benefit of cloud music libraries is that they can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. This means you can be anywhere in the world; on holiday, on business or whatever and be able to access your favourite, or your important, music.

Cloud music libraries don’t necessarily need to be stored elsewhere; you can construct your own private cloud and administer it yourself. Such private clouds can be inside your own home network.

This gives great control, but it also demands responsibility; you are responsible for keeping software up to date amidst security alerts, maintaining backups and configuring your network access. This is not a trivial matter, and should be considered judiciously from the start.

Can you download music from the cloud?

Almost all cloud music storage approaches allow you to download a copy of your music library from their cloud. Some of them do make it harder than others, but in principle this can almost always be done.

The approach taken depends on the service. For many of the hot cloud music storage services, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, automatic, always-on synchronisation software ensures you have a full download of music on all synchronised devices. In other cases you may be required to request an “export” whereupon your library is made available for download within a compressed archive, or series of archives.

Can you get free unlimited storage for music?

At the time of writing, some services do exist that offer this, but they may be withdrawn in the future.

iBroadcast does currently offer free and unlimited music storage on its basic plan, but it does have functional restrictions.

How do I keep my music private?

Privacy of a music library, and indeed any computer data, can be provided in many ways.

The first is to restrict access to it. Cloud storage services for music provide ways of sharing your music with others, but by default don’t allow access to just anyone on the Internet. Typically, you need a username and password to access your music.

The next way to ensure privacy is to ensure it is encrypted, both when transferring your music from one place to another (such as when streaming) or when at rest. So long as the data is encrypted end-to-end it is likely to be impractical for attackers to view your library and the data within it.

It should be re-emphasised that if you choose to self-host your cloud data it’s up to you to ensure privacy on an ongoing basis.

How do I upload music to the cloud?

Music is stored in the form of files; to upload music into the cloud you must transfer those files into your cloud storage service. Some services provide automatic synchronisation software and some don’t; just offering a folder or file upload service. In some cases you can also connect third party software to keep files on your computer in sync with music in the cloud.

How do you access cloud music when you’re offline?

Accessing your cloud music when offline depends on the storage service you use.

In some cases, automatic synchronisation software means a mirror of your library is stored on your devices. It should be made clear that sometimes this storage is lazy; that is, the music is only downloaded when explicitly requested. If this is the case you must eagerly download the music before you are offline.

In other cases, companion apps may exhibit a synchronisation or caching function that stores music on your devices for offline listening. In many cases you need to pick ahead of time which music is stored, but the more flexible services allow you to specify all your music.

How do you store music in the cloud?

Music, which comes in the form of computer files, must be moved to a cloud storage service. A cloud storage service may be a hosted service you rent access to (sometimes for free, depending on the amount of data) or it could be something you self-host, setting up the necessary software on infrastructure you administer.

With the storage service in place, music is synchronised or simply uploaded (transferred) to the storage service. From there, the music can be accessed from anywhere that has access to the storage service and the necessary credentials to authenticate.

What are the best storage services for music in the cloud?

There are many different ways of measuring a cloud music storage service and so defining the ‘best’ depends on your requirements.

Some are built for the mainstream music listener, allowing a limited amount of uploads while combining those with a vast rented library.

Some are purer collector services which understand different album releases, re-releases, artist biographies and more.

Some still are audiophile-oriented and focus on their audio quality.

Our comparison tables of generic storage services, music lockers and self-hosted solutions will hopefully help you choose what is the correct option for you.

What are the different types of cloud music storage?

Cloud music storage can be classified and grouped in multiple ways. First, there’s the distinction between hosted and self-hosted storage space. With the former you rent access to storage, and transfer your music library to that location. With self-hosting you are responsible for setting up the storage software, networking and security.

Music storage can be hot or cold. Hot storage functions like storage on a computer - it’s always available and has a high throughput so can provide multiple different types of services, such as streaming. Cold storage, though, is more applicable to applications like backup; it’s slow to download and access, but as a result is often cheaper.

Finally, specifically for music, there are value-added storage services called music lockers which combine plain storage with musical services, such as in-built music players and more. However, such services are sometimes less flexible because they are proprietary in nature and are not open to extension by other app developers.

What audio quality is a cloud music library?

The audio quality of a music library stored in a cloud storage service depends on the service itself.

In most cases, music is stored in native quality; that is, the quality of the file that is uploaded to the cloud music storage service is maintained. If you upload MP3s, which are lossy, you’ll get MP3 quality back, but if you upload lossless files such as FLACs, or high-res files, you can stream in that higher quality.

However, in a non-trivial number of other cases, the music file may be adapted. This can sometimes occur depending on the pricing tier of the service, or simply as a way the service is designed. For example, Apple Music’s iTunes Match service matches existing music on your computer with copies online. When matched, your music isn’t actually uploaded and instead you have access to Apple Music’s copy, which will almost definitely be of a different quality level (sometimes higher quality).

If you have any other questions please feel free to email me (Dan) at - I'll answer by email, and maybe (with your permission) add the answer to this document to help other people.

Dan is the CEO of the Astiga streaming service. Any questions about cloud music libraries? Send me an email!

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