The Post Consumption Fan Meets Amazon Locker

Over-eating The race to the cloud heated up yesterday as Amazon jumped the gun on Google and Apple and got a running start. Expect responses from the latter companies soon. This increased emphasis on music lockers, however, could have unintended consequences that actually make the record industry worse off than if they had embraced Spotify and others with open arms.

Once fans have a cheap way to access their MP3s – long before they've grown accustomed to supplementing them with streams – they may not as readily flock to Spotify. And guess what? Spotify might pay low amounts, but fans accessing their MP3s from Amazon doesn't pay anything. Major labels hope that fans will develop a new interest in downloads when they may be encouraging the contrary: file sharing. A few thousand songs makes a great, "self-built" music service.

For fans that have gorged on free music for 5-10 years, filled their hard drives, and are more or less content with their collections, they've already got most of what they want and aren't that pressed to get more. Instead of growing tired of MP3s and looking at subscription services with fawning eyes, many may begin to see lockers as a way to give their MP3s a second life. Why, after all, would someone subscribe to cloud-based service when the average TidySongs user is reported to have 7,160 songs in their collection? For them, a self-administered cloud-based service is cheaper to create then the apps available. Rather than using Spotify (which they can't) or Rhapsody or MOG (which they don't know exists), fans may take the major label bait and store their music in a locker. The only concern is who the hell knows where it came from or if they've paid for it. It seems like fans are shifting away from file sharing and streaming more music, but if they jump into the music locker market instead, BitTorrent looks ever more appealing.

Fans have shown signs of wanting to leave their MP3s behind. The major labels, however, have been pushing for Google, Apple, and others to secure lockers so fans will see their collections as having renewed value. That would be great, if the post consumption fan bought all those MP3s in the first place. Now, rather than leaving file sharing behind and moving to "greener" pastures, fans may maintain their risk-free grazing for a while longer. Considering that the labels have brought this new development on themselves, Eliot Van Buskirk at remarks, "it's supremely ironic." In delaying Spotify and pandering to Google and Apple, the labels may have pushed fans to migrate back to file sharing at a time when fans were willingly leaving the practice. Now, they may have reason to stay.

That is, of course, if the labels don't try to kill off the new Amazon locker first.

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  1. I like having my MP3’s RIGHT where I have them… I MAY use a locker to store them electronically JUST IN CASE of a HD failure or something like that…

  2. Good points, Kyle.
    I don’t think the average music user is thinking about giving their MP3 collection “a second life”, though. If they don’t perceive a problem with what they’re using, they won’t care to look. I don’t believe that music lockers are going to convince most people to re-evaluate their iPods, iPhones, and Android devices loaded with MP3s (purchased or not). Some consumers are going to care, but those people are on the edges and their tastes don’t necessarily reflect the rest of the population.
    For a big change to occur, the market needs to be convinced that that paradigm of owning MP3s is broken, and that there is a much better way to consume music. I think this is happening slowly (think of how much more music is streamed and shared online via YouTube), but it’s got a ways to go. None of the streaming services have done a good job a demonstrating how much better streaming can be (better pricing, access, etc.). Spotify may be able to do it, but it needs the rights holders to give it a chance.
    I agree that if the labels, publishers, etc. focus on lockers at the expense of streaming, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

  3. Just make it paid subscription monthly.. no more than 5 bucks and then count plays of each song. For each song labels and artists get royalty just like in radio (but probably smaller one) and that way EVERYONE will get paid. Amazon gets a cut, labels and artists are compensated and fans have a place for music with easy access.
    Amazon really could pull this off. I’m already using it for books.. if they make it easy I will buy music there probably..

  4. something that we can learn from recent history is that the majors are very slow to embrace technology and, as a result, end up boning themselves

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