David Pakman: “We Need A Digital Locker.”


David Pakman was the long time CEO of eMusic and now works in venture capital.  In a post on his blog Disruption, he recently made the argument that We Need Digital Lockers More Than Ever

“We now live in a world where we have multiple devices on which we want to consume various forms of media: TVs, desktop PCs, laptops, smart phones, tablets, eBook readers, and more coming," he says.  "Anyone who wants to distribute media to us has a hard time providing it to us in a way that lets us – the consumers – choose how, where and when we want to consume it.” 

Given that TED recognized the members of their book club may not want to receive a huge package full of hardcovers; they decided to make it so the books on their list could be downloaded onto Kindles.  In realizing how “broken” this process really was, it got Packman thinking that perhaps it shouldn’t take the mediation of Amazon to grant him access to the eBooks on that list.

That maybe, he writes, “We need a locker. We need an open, authenticated location in the cloud where we can store, access, receive, organize, and share our digital media. Media is too fragmented online.”  Suppose he didn’t want those eBooks on his Kindle.  That way, he could receive his media in the locker instead of it being downloaded onto a local device.


His thinking: “Google might be the best company to deliver this service. They have the added benefit, at least for now, of not being a retailer of media."  To which he concludes, “Yes, some content owners hate this idea because they instead want to charge me each time I access their content (think about how many times you pay, one way or another, to see a movie). But now, more than ever, we need a digital locker in the cloud.” 

Do you agree with David?

What the digital locker mean for music?

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  1. External harddrives are not in any way cloud. They go right back to that hardcover book problem. I would say the old technology that closest resembles the cloud idea is FTP, but FTP is way too old and not user friendly enough for the world. Apple’s mac.com/MobileMe has been around for a very long time now too, and is in many ways a cloud system, though the media aspect of it hasn’t taken that next step beyond idisk yet.
    From the back end of the industry, a number of media services are web based, salesforce, topspin, etc…
    I currently use Evernote as my do everything locker in the cloud. As a personal locker, it’s fantastic, it stores a lot of my media and data and I can easily access it from my iPhone, iPad, and any computer with Internet access. What’s great though, is that I can use it offline, they have non web based apps that work great. I want to see companies offer evernote plugins so I can embed cloud updated analytics graphs or topic tracking Twitter feeds.
    Evernote isn’t really media friendly enough though, and i think it’s going to be between apple and google to crank out the best real media specific platform in the cloud. I think devices will have a big effect on this too. The iPad for example pretty much screams cloud computing, and it was fantastic being able to stream a netflix movie over 3G on a bus to NYC yesterday.
    Also, don’t forget products like Sonos, which when mixed with Digital music retailers, essentially gives you a cloud based wireless stereo system that can be controlled by a multitude of devices. (lefsetz talks about this often, was it Rhapsody that he uses?) The kindle definitely falls into this category too. As does the ipad. The trouble is, everything is way too proprietary. There either needs to be an app, or a device that is open to the universe. Evernote is headed in the right direction, but a lot of progress needs to be made.

  2. “There either needs to be an app, or a device that is open to the universe.”
    And you’re ruling out external hard drives because they’re “not cloud?” Who cares? Cloud is hype, just like “Smart Grid,” “Transparency,” “Music 2.0” and “Hope + Change.”
    It works, and that’s what matters.

  3. Right on David!
    And the locker is here today! MP3tunes http://www.mp3tunes.com is a fantastic consumer controlled locker. It stores your entire music library in any format. That library can be accessed from any device: web browser of course, iphone, itouch, ipad (using the freely available Airband), Android phone or many popular internet radios like Logitech’s Squeezebox line.
    All the music can be downloaded or streamed to any device in any format. There’s a public API http://mp3tunes.com/api so anyone can write an interface for any device. (There’s an iPad app coming out soon written by our users.)

  4. What’s after cloud computing? How many times in my life will I need purchase Dylan’s Highway 61 because there is a better sounding format or alternative storage/access method? How do I acheive permanent ownership and not have to pay once again when somebody figures out another way to re-monetize things I already own. Fix this and I’ll be happy. Otherwise you are asking me to move to a cloud and fork over more money to listen to Dylan, again.

  5. Dropbox – http://www.dropbox.com. Not only is it a “digital locker” but it’s one that can be synced with ALL of your computers. Even if you are away from your computers, you can still access your Dropbox from any computer because the files are also hosted on their servers or in the “cloud”. If you’ve never heard of it I would definitely take a few minutes to check it out.
    Steve — http://www.getsoundaround.com

  6. I would love to have a digital locker, at least as a stopgap solution, not least because, after the inglorious deaths of imeem, Lala, et al., it’s hard not to feel like that streaming is like Charlie Brown kicking at Lucy’s football.
    As the previous commenters have made clear, all the pieces are in place for a secure, private digital locker. What’s lacking is a user-friendly interface. I don’t want to have to run my own server, for example. And I use Dropbox, but it can’t stream music to my iPhone. The storage and access components are equally important, and the latter hasn’t yet been effectively addressed.

  7. If you need a digital locker for your media, survey the available services & choose one. For $5-10 a month you can store and stream as much as you want from any number of file hosting and cloud storage providers. I have been enjoying exactly those conveniences about which you opine for quite some time now and it’s cheaper than external hard drives, with built-in multiple redundancies and universal access at wire speed.

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