There’s a lot of music all over the internet, which is great, except that it’s in a lot of different places. If you want to listen to something on YouTube, something on SoundCloud, and something in your iTunes library, you’re going to need at least two browser tabs open along with iTunes. And if you want to create a playlist, you’re going to have a job of work getting all those tracks in one place.
Enter CloudPlay, a menubar app for streaming music from all over. Currently in beta, CloudPlay lets you search for music from lots of different sources and then pop it all into one playlist. We’ll take a look at how the app works and find out if it’s really that easy.
Playlists in the Cloud
There’s no sign-up or sign-in. To get started using CloudPlay, just start searching for music. By default, CloudPlay searches iTunes, CloudPlay online radio, YouTube, SoundCloud, exfm, and BandSoup. When you find the song you’re looking for, right-click it to add the track to a new or existing playlist. Because this is the internet and you can’t really know what you’re going to get, double-click the song to preview if you want to make sure it’s the right track or that it doesn’t cut off in the middle.
When you add music from an online audio source to a playlist, CloudPlay will stream your music from that source whenever you hit play. Your playlists aren’t limited to one source, either; CloudPlay doesn’t force you to keep your SoundCloud tracks together in one playlist and exfm tracks in a separate playlist. A single playlist can have songs from all the different CloudPlay sources and play without interruption.
Adding YouTube tracks is a little different, because when the song plays, you’ll get the accompanying video. You won’t really notice anything if CloudPlay is running in the background, though. If you choose in the application preferences to keep CloudPlay visible when switching to another app, however, a video player will open above your CloudPlay playlist.
Managing Your Playlists
It’s easy enough to edit playlists. Right-clicking on a song will let you delete it or add it to another playlist. Right-clicking also gives you the option to visit the website streaming the song. Drag songs around if you need to reorder them. Unfortunately, there’s no way to loop a playlist or otherwise set CloudPlay to repeat. You’ll just have to get in there and start everything over whenever a playlist gets to the end.
In addition to streaming music and new playlists, CloudPlay also gives you access to your iTunes library in your menubar. It lists all of your music for you by playlist or album. Sure, there are lots of other apps that will do this for you, but it’s nice to have it together with the CloudPlay features.
Once you’ve played every song you know and have exhausted all of your playlists, you can try some of the Console.fm playlists. Each has between 7 and 11 hours of music, so not too shabby. I’m not sure Console.fm had me in mind when they were creating these playlists, though. There’s a lot of techno, trance, electro, and dubstep, which is great if that’s what I’m in the mood for, but it didn’t provide a lot of variety.
Pros and Cons
CloudPlay doesn’t have a lot of sharing options right now, but it does support Last.fm integration and scrobbling. The Sharing tab in the preferences is pretty bare right now, but it looks like the developers have left room to add some more services down the road. CloudPlay is only in beta at the moment, so we can expect changes before the full release.
If you want to use the F7, F8, and F9 media player control keys for CloudPlay, you’re in luck. There are preset keyboard shortcuts that will make those keys work for you. Unfortunately, you can’t edit the shortcuts; what they’ve given you is what you get. Also, when I did try the shortcuts myself, the response time was incredibly slow, so slow in fact that I thought they hadn’t worked at all. The keyboard shortcuts did eventually switch tracks for me like they should. It just took a while.
Some Streaming Truths
It’s worth noting that like all cloud and music streaming services, you’re using bandwidth here and may see slowing as your browse the internet. If this is an issue for you at all, it will be especially pronounced when playing YouTube videos with CloudPlay. If you’re on a slow connection, you may want to keep the videos to a minimum.
Because none of these files belong to you, you don’t have any control over them. A track could be there one day and gone the next. If you stick to official YouTube channels, you’re probably less likely to run into this issue, but it can happen. While you may unexpectedly lose your favorite song on your favorite playlist, that’s not really something that can be blamed on CloudPlay; CloudPlay’s just letting you get at the music more easily where it’s available. However, if you’re really attached to a song, you might want to think about purchasing it. Not only can you keep listening to it indefinitely, but you’ll also be supporting the artist or band.
While there were some obvious problems with streaming music from pretty much wherever on the internet, none of that’s on CloudPlay’s shoulders. At its core, CloudPlay is an app that makes it easier to listen to all the great music on the internet. No longer do you have to keep three browser tabs open, with multiple sites loaded, just to get the music you’re looking for. And with CloudPlay in a menubar app, you also don’t have to worry about accidentally closing a browser tab and cutting off a track in the middle, or worse, losing that day’s playlist.
CloudPlay makes it really simple to add lots of music from lots of different places to a single playlist. On top of that, you get videos, too, which was so cool, I had to turn CloudPlay off to get any work done. CloudPlay is currently in beta, and I hope to see more sources and more sharing services added with the full release. Even without those extras, CloudPlay stands up as a great streaming music player.