Friday, June 10, 2011

Amazon Cloud and Apple icloud – Fighting the Music Lovers Need to Store Music

Amazon and Apple have announced their plans to turn the digital music world upside down by offering music on a “cloud” model, where purchased songs are not stored on an individual consumer device, but stored on Amazon or Apple servers to be accessed by the consumer anywhere. A good overview and comments in Knowledge @Wharton Today Blog

The benefits of cloud music storage and access look appealing – no more syncing amazon cloud player multiple devices like laptops, tablets, handhelds, phones, etc. These devices will now connect to with each person’s collection on the cloud server for instant access and synchronization.

One concern for this new approach is that it fights a basic consumer insight I have observed. Music lovers want to acquire, own and store their own music. They want it accessible and untouchable. While having one’s own music stored on a cloud is virtually the same, it is different than physically building and storing your own collection.

icloud-logoLet me start by saying that purchasing and storing one’s own music is actually illogical from a cost benefit perspective for the following reasons:

  • There are already subscriber services which will allow access to vast selections of music at small monthly rates. While not for downloading, any song is available at your command.
  • Newer radio formats (Pandora, Satellite radio, digital cable, internet radio, etc,) have multiplied, each with the ability to customize your listening experience to very specific tastes. Again, you can listen but there is no download.
  • Purchased music has a shelf life. I don’t actually ever listen to Springsteen’s Born to Run album anymore. Younger listeners still have their Hanson’s and Boys to Men hit singles from the 1990’s even though they no longer listen to them.

However, despite the illogic of purchasing and storing a lot of music for individual consumption, it is in music lovers DNA to want to own, and keep with them, their own music. The cloud is therefore a scary proposition for many because the big company may one day decide that they want to change the rules and your music could vanish. Unlike in business, where cloud software makes good financial sense, consumers may not be rational in this regard. Cloud ownership starts to feel like renting music even though you do own your collection in the cloud. And what happens when the cloud people realize that not all that music in your collection was purchased through them (or at all).  They might ask you where you got it. Hey, that’s my song, leave me alone. Get off of my cloud!

To the music lover and collector, the right to own and store your music in the safety of your house should be written into the constitution, like gun ownership, or free speech.  consumers want to own certain things even if alternative models are more efficient.  Personal music storage is partly illogical, yet a strong motivator in music sales. My bet is that Amazon and Apple learn this lesson quickly.

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