After a rocky start, online streaming service Imeem has raced to the head of the pack, thanks in large part to an effective search engine and the variety and large selection of music that users upload and share via the site.
It also helps that Imeem has deals with the major labels, so it's in no imminent danger of facing a Seeqpod-style shutdown. (However, Warner Music recently wrote down its investment in Imeem and rival Lala.)
Imeem launched an app for Android last year, but iPhone users were out of luck--until now.
I just downloaded the free Imeem app for iPhone. My first reaction was a definite ho-hum. The main point of the site is the ability to search and play millions of user-posted songs, but conducting a search on the iPhone app only creates a customized radio station based around that song or artist--disappointing, but probably part of Imeem's agreements with copyright holders.
Then I discovered a much better use for the Imeem app: storage in the cloud. If you create an Imeem account on the Web site, you can upload up to 100 songs to Imeem for free. (A VIP Subscription service is available as well--$29.99 per year gives you 1,000 uploads, while $99.99 a year gives you 20,000.)
My 8GB iPhone gives me enough space for some reasonably interesting playlists, but it's far from enough to store my entire music library, which runs at more than 20GB. Imeem's free level of service doesn't change the game, but it does provide a convenient storage place for huge music files that threaten to overload my phone's relatively meager flash drive. For instance, I'd never transfer the MP3 of Roger Waters performing "Dark Side of the Moon" live, which comes in at over 50MB. But I can upload it to Imeem, log in, and listen to it from anywhere with a strong 3G or Wi-Fi connection.
There's also a "share song" option that lets me e-mail a link to any song in my Imeem locker to my friends--a great way to share music you've recently discovered.