Last night, Amazon pulled the wraps off of it's Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. I love that the new service offers free online backup and streaming of songs you purchase from Amazon going forward, but the songs you've already purchased won't be automatically backed up. Nor will songs downloaded from other services, like eMusic or iTunes. Backing those tracks up should be easy using Amazon's new MP3 Uploader, right? It should be, but it isn't. If you're like us, your digital purchases are buried in your music library along with thousands of tracks ripped from CDs--and it will be a massive pain in the ass to dig them out, one file at a time.
Lucky for you, there are a few fast, easy ways to find all your purchased MP3 files, whether you're on a PC or Mac.
The secret, it turns out, is in each MP3's Comments tag. You see, most online music stores tag each song with an identifier in the track's ID3 tags. In Amazon's case, they embed "Amazon.com Song ID:" in each track they sell. So, all you need to do to find the tracks you've already purchased from Amazon is to search for all the MP3s on your system with Amazon.com in the Comments field. The bad news is that most jukebox software doesn't let you search the Comments tag--you'll need to use Windows Explorer or Finder for that.
The good news is that that's very easy to do. All you need to do is open either a Finder window (in Mac) or an Explorer window (in Windows), browse to the folder where you store your music, and search for Amazon.com. Unfortunately, there's another speed bump. You can't view the contents of a search from the MP3 uploader window. The easiest way around this I found was to simply copy the MP3s found by search into a new, temporary folder. Then point the MP3 Uploader tool at that folder and start uploading.
You can also find any songs you've purchased from other stores as well--tracks purchased from iTunes are AAC files with m4a extensions, so they're easy to track down. I haven't been able to find any similar tricks for eMusic
Of course, there are a few things to be wary of--first, it will take a pretty long time to upload gigs of audio on home broadband. Second, depending on your ISP these uploads will count toward your monthly transfer limits, so you may want to space them out over a couple of months or just upload them from somewhere with a fatter pipe--like your school or office.