My 5/15/11 Missoulian column
There’s an interesting thing going on right now in the world of digital music; it’s moving into the “cloud.”
By digital music I mean music that is bought online (or converted from CDs) and stored and played on PCs, laptops, smartphones and the many kinds of MP3 players.
And by cloud computing I mean decentralized computing, a trend that is all the rage right now. Using cloud computing means that your files are stored on the Internet and not only located on one device at home or office. As a result, your data is available wherever you connect to the Internet with a PC, tablet, laptop or smartphone.
For example, if you use Google’s Gmail service, you’re using the cloud, as your email and contacts are not on your PC or laptop: they are stored at Google, in bits spread out on servers all over the world. That’s the cloud: your data – and music – is everywhere and nowhere.
The creative and business aspects of music have already changed drastically in the past 10 years, and the cloud is another logical step, following personal computing’s move toward the cloud.
Music in the cloud has been dreamed of by listeners for some time because of its anticipated convenience. It’s a lot of work to sync a music collection between lots of different devices. If your music was in a “locker” and accessible over the Internet, you could listen wherever you could connect.
The convenience of a music locker in the clouds is the business motivation behind Amazon.com, Google, Apple and some other players moving into cloud music.
Amazon is already a major retailer of music and opened up its Cloud Player last month. Google Music is in limited beta (testing) mode by invitation right now. And Apple, the online music leader with iTunes, is readying a cloud service that will be officially announced soon.
Industry analysts say that Apple has been working on details and waiting to release its service, for a reason. That’s because there are legal ramifications with music lockers in the cloud.
Amazon and Google don’t have licensing agreements with the record labels; they went ahead and launched without them. Apple is said to be reaching agreements with the labels.
The legalities of music in the cloud might turn out to be the deciding factor for which music service becomes the most popular and profitable.
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