The biggest challenge with iTunes is that it only runs on one PC which means that if you have multiple home PCs or PCs at work can't always access all your tunes. It's amazed me that iTunes has not figured out how to do this, but then again iTunes won't even celebrate its sixth birthday until April 28, 2003.
If you have multiple PCs you can make CDs and you can synchronize some of your songs to your portable device - but at the end of the day it's a hassle. At home you might have four people, 3 iPod users and 2 PCs - trust me, it's a combination that does not work out. At work you might have a PC and you can't access iTunes at all from work.
This is where Echodio hopes to find its niche. You can only try it out right now if you are a Mac user, as the Windows and Linux versions have not been released yet. With Echodio you download an application which installs as a plugin to iTunes. You create a new Echodio playlist and add in all of the songs you want to upload to Echodio. Then you can stream it through Boxee or soon Echodio’s own Web player.
Echodio even ensures that your ratings in iTunes and other tags get synced as well. As you add songs to iTunes - the synchronization is ongoing. Plus, you will have the added bonus of automatically backing up your digital music collection. That's no small deal - the majority of digital music users don't have good backups. Echodio pricing is still in flux - but after the beta you should expect to be paying on a per gigabyte basis.
If you can't wait for Echodio, you can try out Lala.com right now. Using Lala to sync your music is easy. First, you create a free Lala.com account. Then you install the Music Mover software, which is available for both Windows and Mac. This software scans for and identifies all of the MP3s and paid iTunes songs on your hard drive and adds them to your collection on LaLa. You can then stream the music to any Internet-ready computer. Those other devices, like your PC at work, don't need the Music Mover software. You only need to put the software on any PC that has music files that you want to upload to Lala.com.
If Lala.com already has a copy of the song, all it uploads is the note that says "you have rights to this song." Only when you have a song that Lala.com does not have, like local bands or your own recordings, does Music Mover actually take the time to upload the music to Lala.com.
This sync service is free because Lala.com hopes to make its money selling you music with a pretty reasonable pricing model! Lala lets you play millions of songs once without paying. After that you pay just 10 cents to add it to your collection and stream it whenever you want. Then, if you choose to download a MP3 of the song you pay 89 cents (which is cheaper than most music sites) and you get that $.10 streaming fee back. All the MP3s you download are DRM-free, compatible with iTunes and Windows Media Player. Plus an iPhone application that will allow users to stream any song from their music library to their iPhone is on the horizon.
Lala and Echodio are great products that will help you access your entire music library wherever and whenever you want.
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