Friday, February 26, 2010

The Cloud Owns You

This item about Spotify going down raises a big issue with keeping your music collection "in the cloud".  If the cloud goes down, you don't have your music anymore.   It seems obvious, but I think it is a point often overlooked in the move towards cloud based music services.  What if you're having a party and you lose your internet connection...or your cloud based music service goes down?  Now you have a party with no tunes.
Even worse, what if you have spent many hours finding and adding songs to your favorite music service and one day it is gone?  Bankrupt maybe, or forced to close for some reason or another - it happens all the time.  Now you have to rebuild your entire music collection. Will that rare, hard to find track be available on another service?

And there's another more ominous issue with having your music in the cloud - it's not YOUR music.  When my music is on my hard drive it is mine to do what I want with. Copy it to my iPod, put it on another computer, burn it to a CD - whatever.  I know it isn't going anywhere unless my drive gets erased or breaks. But if your music is in a cloud based service, someone else controls it and controls what you can do with it.  Maybe one day they decide that songs from a certain artist can no longer be played and they yank them from your collection. Don't like it? Tough luck.  Maybe revenues are slipping and the powers that be decide you will now hear a 30 second ad in between every song. Got a problem with that? Too bad - we control your audio collection.

I'll stick with keeping my music collection on a frequently backed up hard drive. No internet? No problem - I still have my music and it's mine.  Granted, cloud based services offer a lot in terms of convenience, but I'll gladly put up with the minor hassle of syncing my music to my iPod every now and then in exchange for the comfort of knowing my music is always there when I need it.