Cloud storage of your music is more powerful than you think
I sometimes wonder if there's a false dichotomy at play when music library storage is discussed. People are either streamers or storers. They either offload management of their library to their streaming service and rent it (and more) back, or they do all the work themselves, and pay a one-off cost instead.
I think a third way, a hybrid way, is beginning to develop. Both approaches have their advantages, so why not take advantage of them both?
It's not just backups
Many self-storers have used the cloud (including myself) for backup of a music library for a while. The advantage is it's a low friction way of getting started with offsite backups. Whether it's a plain mirror or generational backups, we all know that backups are essential to a serious music collector. An offsite backup strategy makes your redundancy strategy more effective still.
But I don't think you can say you are using a hybrid cloud/self stored model if you just use backups. In such a scenario, use of the cloud is rather "dumb"; it's just being used as a data storage silo.
So let's explore a few more interesting ideas to really stretch this architecture and make use of your monthly cloud drive subscription!
Sharing a library to a different location
If you can make a copy of your music library to the cloud, for the purposes of backups, you can make a copy anywhere. And if you have a copy in the cloud, it's easy to copy that library to a different location. It should, of course, be your copy, for your use.
This becomes powerful for a number of scenarios. Have a beach house or holiday home? Synchronise your music there. Want your music on your office computer? Sync it (although maybe check your employer is happy with the download!).
Remote library playlisting
Similarly, on a smaller scale, having access to your music library remotely is useful. This doesn't mean setting up a grandiose synchronisation scheme, necessarily.
Just being somewhere, remembering a piece of music you want to play, and being able to access it and play it is pretty darn useful.
Most cloud drive and backup services enable you to browse your mirrored library, and using, say, your phone's Web browser, or an app, you should be able to download and get that music playing pretty quickly.
Offloading massive libraries
I actually got into a private message chat with a user on the Computer Audiophile forums on this very topic a few months ago. He wrote something that made my eyes widen!
He wrote that he stored 65TB on Google Drive. Sixty-five terabytes! He explained that he likes to collect every release for every album, so it's easy to see how he amasses that kind of library. It's easier and less to think about to simply have Google store that amount of music.
What's to consider?
There are three things to consider: management, price and practicality.
The remote library needs separate management. Especially if you are syncing to other devices and locations, redundancy brings its own costs in management. It can be a lot of work continue to synchronise the collections. The best approach is probably to only make edits to a 'Gold' collection and make the synchronised libraries "dumb", simply receiving updates.
However, the synchronisation heuristics for your library, i.e. what gets synchronised and when, are themselves a management cost. You can end up with a lot to think about there.
Price is the next concern. The first obvious one is storage space. At the time of writing, Backblaze B2 is the service most often cited as best value amongst music collectors.
There are other price concerns - some cloud providers impose data transfer costs, which might make any initial upload a costly affair, and then there's your ISP; will you have to pay for more monthly bandwidth?
Finally: practicality. Especially if you are maintaining a lossless or, worse, a HD library, you're going to need to upload a lot of data. Different regions of the world have different levels of Internet connectivity, and in many regions it's simply not practical to upload everything.
Do you have a novel use for your cloud based music library? Leave a comment!
Thanks to Denys Nevozhai for the image above.