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April 1, 2011 / starstarstarstar

Cloudy thinking about Amazon

So, Amazon have released their new Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services that allow punters to upload their digital music and whatnot, and then have it streamed back to them wherever they happen to be. I can’t say I was terrifically excited about this idea, but then I’m always listening to new acts, most of which don’t merit more than a single listen anyway (ouch, Shel, you’re going to have to learn to be a bit more tactful – although it’s unlikely that this leopard will be changing his spots to stripes after all these years). Anyway, then the record labels weigh in with some moaning and light to medium level threats about the fact that Amazon have apparently launched this without obtaining the “necessary” streaming licensing. This would be new licensing to allow people to listen to music that they’ve already bought and paid for.

Now, I’m no technical expert but it seems to me that this isn’t a new and unique service. You can store music files and play them back one at a time from Apple’s cloud storage. And you can stream your own music files from your own home computer to wherever if you have the nous to set it up. So actually the labels’ complaint is that Amazon are extracting real moolah for this, and they want some of it. Nice one. I used to do the same when I saw a successful band wearing the same trousers as one of my acts – they either had to pay me for use of that style of trouser, or give me the trousers. If neither of those proved to be acceptable I’d just take the trousers, even if I had to remove them while they were on stage. I think I was in the right.

However, instead of starting a legal tussle with Amazon these guys could be using their heads and suggesting a compromise where everyone wins. It’s obvious. Every time the punter starts playing a particular artist’s music from this cloud player, a short message is played informing them of that artist’s latest release or tour dates. Better still, get the messages recorded by the artists themselves. “Hi, I’m Snoop Dogg. Thank you for loving my music. I do too. And I know you’ll want to know about my new album, Sittin’ In The Street With My Homies. It’s out now. Word.” Labels get free promotion, Amazon get the labels off their back and can advertise the messages as a “value added service”, and the punters will be thrilled that their favourite artists are taking the trouble to speak to them.

This does leave one category unaccounted for, and that would be dead artists, who can neither speak nor release a new album (unless it’s reheated old stuff) nor go on tour (Michael Jackson excepted). In such cases I suggest a message from a current artist who’s a bit like the one being streamed – “Hi, I’m Justin Bieber. I notice you’re listening to Led Zeppelin. Much like the Zeppers, I enjoy rehashing ideas originated by earlier musicians and passing them off as all my own work. Try my new album, I’m Younger Than I Look. I think you might like it. Kisses.”

Mark my words, this is an idea whose time has come. If only someone would realise it.



Leave a Comment
  1. sharp / Mar 29 2012 6:14 am

    I found this thinking to be clear, relevant, articulate and knowledgeable.

  2. starstarstarstar / Apr 27 2012 10:03 pm

    Very kind, thank you.

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