Amazon: The Company that Can’t Figure Out Music

It’s embarrassing, really. Here we are with one of the largest retail companies ever conceived by man. A place where from your internet-connected device you can order anything from books, electronics,  to mincemeat, to fifty-gallon drums of personal lubricant. You can also buy just about any album in physical form whether it be brand-new or something long out of print. It’s the Sears Roebuck of my generation, and it’s done a pretty good job to that effect.

Naturally, as any online retailer does, Amazon tries to branch out into the digital distribution realm. They’ve done okay on the video side of things with a decent offering for Prime subscribers. Software purchases are also very smooth, with many games even working with Steam out of the box. Music streaming, however, is where Amazon fails miserably. And they fail in a way that a company known for innovation really shouldn’t.

Amazon recently introduced their revamped Amazon Music service, boasting millions upon millions of songs available on all of your devices. As a guy who has jumped from one streaming service to another, I was hopelessly intrigued. The size of a service’s library isn’t much of a selling point these days since most services now have similar catalogs and most of those services have ways to mesh your personal library with theirs.

I thought that Amazon Music would grant me that same luxury. I had used their previous iteration of streaming service in the past, which was then less miserable. It allowed me to sync my library with Amazon’s. The issue? Hundreds of duplicate items in all of my playlists. A pure clusterfuck. I then went to Google Music with little to no fuss. With the new Amazon Music, the duplicate issue didn’t seem to appear, since you now have to pay a new yearly fee to have your library synced. On top of my Prime subscription, I’d have to pay an extra $25 a year to store my songs, even though I already have an amount of cloud storage that could accommodate it.

The abysmal desktop application did not help my understanding of this fact. In my attempts to sync my library, no progress notifications were provided. The user interface twitched, brightened, and faded with each tiny movement of the mouse. It crashed a couple of times. My first few attempts to log in were unsuccessful. Downloading and uploading playlists was a frustrating experience.

This isn’t how Amazon usually does things. They usually work on a project obsessively until it’s to their satisfaction. Amazon Echo is a perfect example of what they can do right.  So what the hell is wrong with Amazon Music? I think they believe that a vast library will solve all of their problems. It won’t if it sucks to interact with that library. In my many and almost obsessive jumps across streaming platforms, the one that always gets my repeat business is Spotify – because the software is good! It treats my personal library not as an afterthought, but almost as a friend. It’s seamless. Google Play does a similarly good job. It’s infuriating that Amazon can’t equal this with all of their resources and built-in userbase in their Prime customers.

Here’s what they could do. Go ahead and charge Prime customers for the actual streaming service. Don’t further nickel-and-dime them for storing their music. Go ahead and charge the non-prime folks for that. Make desktop and mobile applications that actually work. I’m pretty sure that most of the population of the Seattle-Tacoma area are Amazon developers, so use ’em.

In the meantime, stick with Google Play or Spotify, ’cause Amazon Music is the very definition of a hot mess.

Getting into Soccer: A Soccer Dummy’s Journey

When I was a wee little twerp, my mom and dad thought it would be a good idea for me to try a sport. That sport was soccer, and I was enrolled in my county’s youth soccer league.

Needless to say, I was terrible. I mean awful. I remember just standing on the field zoned out wondering when the game would end so I could go home. I’m pretty certain it was quite embarrassing for my parents to see their little twerp looking up at the clouds instead of at the game. Either way, we all came to the realization that sports wasn’t my thing and that was that. I’m sure my parents still have my “everyone gets a trophy” trophies from that time in my life.

Anyway, as the years wore on I never gave soccer much thought until my undergrad years, when I would quizzically look at folks walk into class who I knew weren’t from European countries but wearing football jerseys from places like Madrid, Milan, Tottenham, and others. Why are they wearing that jersey if I know they grew up in Arlington? Are they wearing it ironically? Got it at the goodwill? I was a confused young man. It wasn’t until the 2010 Word Cup when I got a taste of that level of soccer. The excitement in the fans and the vuvuzelas spoke to me. After the Cup was won, cableless me went without soccer again for another four years.

Then, the 2014 World Cup in Rio came along. I actually went into this one wanting to learn more about the game. Still cableless me went to my apartment complex’s bar (pretty fucking sweet, I know) to watch the games. People surrounded the bar in those foreign jerseys and cheered. The thing was, though, that the jerseys didn’t match who they were cheering for on TV. I then came to a realization that was pretty cool. Sure, there were a few folks who were die-hard for their team and would act like a pissy Green Bay fan, but for the most part people were cheering for the game, not just their team. A well-played game was met with applause by all involved. That’s cool, I thought, and then went without soccer again.

Now, I want to get into soccer without having to rely on the World Cup, especially with all the bullshit FIFA does. So, I picked up a copy of PES2016, which I really stink at so far but I’m learning well. Also, I’m looking into the unbelievably confusing world of online streaming of international games. What fun! Spyware and pop-up riddled underground streaming sites are far from successful, NBC and Fox have their expensive proprietary streaming options, and BitTorrent doesn’t have much until after the game has been played. And cableless me really doesn’t want to cough up a shitton on cash on a cable package I won’t watch. Sling has good options but I’ll have to see what my soccer-loving friends use themselves. FC Dallas is doing pretty good this season, too, and their home games are on OTA TV, so that’ll work for a bit. I’m excited to get into things, so if you have any ideas, let me know.