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.

1 comment:

  1. James,

    You've summarisd the problem with cloud-based streaming solutions perfectly.

    I'm the co-founder and CTO of <a href=">psonar</a>, a cloud-based solution which is focused on allowing users to do more with music that they own, unlike streaming services where you effectively 'rent' the music as ling as you continue to subscribe (and hope that the music doesn't get pulled by the copyright owner.)

    With Psonar (and other ownership -based solutions - we're obviously not the only one!) you can upload the music you own to the cloud, so it's accessible everywhere, from any internet-connected device.

    We also provide web-based iTunes-style management so that you can drag and drop tracks to any device that you can connect to a PC via USB, so you can have your music on your device when that's best, but also in the cloud, and it's great for backup, as Ben - one of my team - discovered the other day:

    So - it's great if you love your old MP3 player, want to keep your music on an inexpensive memory stick or for when you don't have an internet connection, thus offering you the best of both worlds.

    By utilising the cloud, however, we can do what the cloud is great for - discovery and social. We've got some cool stuff on the way very soon.

    Anway, enough self-promotion(!) Here's a blog post by Tim - another of my team - on some of the reasons why we also think music owership is here to stay (barely even touching on the issue of pitiful revenue for struggling artists from the eat-all-you-want streaming business models.)

    I hope you find it a good read.