Today, Apple announced two new music services: iTunes in the Cloud that will let you download your purchased music to any of your Apple devices and iTunes Match that will let you put all of your ripped CDs into the cloud so it can be sent to any of your Apple devices. With these two services Apple has leapfrogged both Amazon’s and Google’s most recent cloud offerings. Unlike Amazon and Google’s cloud music services that require you to upload each track you own to the cloud, iTunes Match can check to see if Apple already knows about your tracks and if so, bypass the lengthy upload. Uploading my modest collection of 7,500 tracks to Google Music took about 3 days. Steve Jobs says this will take ‘minutes’.
Although I was happy to see Apple push cloud music forward, I think that Apple (along with Amazon and Google) are going down the wrong path. The music cloud shouldn’t be a locker in the sky where I can put all the music I own, it should be the Celestial Jukebox – a place where all music is available for me to listen to. For the last 40 years, I’ve been suffering under a delusion that I was buying music. I bought 45s, and 12″ vinyl. I bought cassettes, I bought 8 track tapes, I bought CDs and I bought digital files (often protected by some sort of DRM). Every 10 years or so, the format that my music was in became obsolete. I wasn’t buying music, I was renting it until the next format change came along. (The regular format change was instrumental in keeping the recording industry afloat)
Photo by ChrisM70
I’m done ‘buying’ music – the best music value is the music subscription service. For $10 a month I can listen to just about any song, anywhere at anytime. As our devices become permanently connected to the cloud, the value proposition of having access to millions and millions of songs for a few dollars a month will become obvious to all. We will switch from owning music, to renting music. The music locker services being released this year by Apple, Google and Amazon, will be momentary blips in the history of music distribution. In a few years, you will be as likely to purchase a song as you would be to purchase a VHS tape of The Guild. I was really hoping that Apple would skip the music locker completely and release an iTunes subscription service. But alas, we will have to wait a few more whiles. In the mean time, there are plenty of music subscription services like Rdio, Spotify, Rhapsody, Napster, Mog and Thumbplay that will really move listening to the cloud.