Carphone Warehouse, despite the out-of-date name, wants you to get all futuristic with your music and access it anywhere you go “from the cloud”. The new service, dubbed Music Anywhere, scans your music library to establish what tracks and albums you have on your computer, then gives you access to these from its central database via a free online app. This means you can listen to music you own without having to have the physical MP3 file with you everywhere you go – handy for parties and holidays if you don’t already have a media player.
Mobile-wise, this could turn out to be very useful for anyone whose phone doesn’t offer them much storage – maybe you can’t afford a microSD card, or perhaps you’ve used up all your storage on apps and other files. Working in a similar way to the Spotify app, the My Hub Music Anywhere app allows you to stream your music to your handset using a data connection – you can also cache tracks locally for use when you don’t have any internet connection.
The mobile app is available for BlackBerry, Android (v. 1.6 and up) and iPhone – and while the app is free to download, actually using it will cost you £29.99 per year. Anyone buying the Samsung Galaxy Europa from Carphone Warehouse will get the service for free.
It’s a darn sight cheaper than Spotify (which will set you back £10 a month to use on your handset), but Music Anywhere doesn’t give you access to any music you don’t already own, or at least have saved to your computer.
And, because the tracks you have stored have to be matched to a central database (populated with over 6million tracks), if your tastes are a little on the obscure side then you might find yourself without your favourites.
We can imagine a couple of you shifting uncomfortably in your seats, thinking about the, er, less than legitimate nature of your music collection. Catch Media, the company which developed the software, has said that “in extreme cases where it becomes apparent that most of a person’s music collection has been fact pirated, Music Anywhere reserves the right to terminate the service”. It’s not clear how it will establish the legitimacy of your files, nor whether you’ll be given the opportunity to present your own case.
We asked a Carphone Warehouse spokesperson whether the termination of the service would include tattling on the user to the affected record labels, and he said not. However, it’s definitely a grey area; and with so much data on your listening habits being collected for in-app marketing purposes, we wouldn’t take this as gospel.