How Google & Amazon Hurt Recorded Music By Launching Cloud Lockers

image from The launch of Google Music and Amazon's Cloud Music Locker without licenses (and in Google's case without a download store) represents a real setback for the recorded music industry. I'm not one who believes that Google and Amazon should need licenses to create the kind of online hard drives that they did.  But the result are cumbersome, only compatible with select operating systems and lacking many of the features that excite music fans while encouraging discovery and purchase.

Sadly, many fans will try one of these new lockers, be disappointed and decide that music in the cloud is not for them.  Given all the options that cloud music makes possible, that's a major setback in ongoing efforts to encourage consumers to believe again that music is worth paying for, whether as streams or downloads.  

Just as importantly, Google and Amazon are playing into Apple's hand. By waiting to cut deals with the labels and likely by accepting some restrictions, Apple can launch a cloud music competitor with features that encourages users to stay within their closed eco-system of devices, applications and stores. – Bruce Hougthon

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  1. Let’s be clear here: Google (and presumably Amazon) tried to make deals with labels. It’s the labels that didn’t want to play ball, or set unreasonable demands. It’s again the labels who’ve hurt the record industry by trying to protect their outmoded business model instead of innovating.
    Google and Amazon’s products are hamstrung by a dying industry. And so much the better if it hastens the inevitable demise of an obsolete business model.

  2. Bruce
    Normally I totally agree with you but not this time
    Fact is, millions of people already store their music on hard drives, external drives, USB’s, free storage, mega uploads etc etc.
    And who are the ‘many fans’ who will be disappointed? This is an invite only service so Google can get feedback.
    The Majors want cloud services to pay per play, restrict the music, restrict access, etc
    Google were right to say this is totally insane
    Google are the good guys – the labels & publishers simply need an Ad Sense account (similar to YouTube) and they can share the revenue. But once again, the labels would rather control and smother the 1% trying to be legitimate instead of giving incentives to the other 99%

  3. Bruce is dead right. Good piece.
    Ambiguator, there is no such thing as innovation in music. Innovation is just a bullshit ploy by tech companies to screw artists.

  4. Guy Kawasaki says release early and upgrade often. It seems this is what Amazon and Google have done. Well, I’m not sure about the early part. But hopefully they will release often.
    The Amazon locker is a terrific concept. It’s execution is simple with lots of room for new features like playlists and download tracking. I will be interested to see what features Amazon develops and how they integrate this with Kindle.
    From Google, I expect they will integrate theirs with Android and maybe an open API. An API would be awesome.
    WWAD? What will Apple do? I think we will see their response when their new data center goes live.

  5. I agree that what Amazon and Google are offering are lame. Meanwhile my music subscription service isn’t offering the new Fleet Foxes and took away an album I have been enjoying since Jan. Music in the cloud is fantastic for music discovery but not much more than that. CDs are increasingly hard to find so what does that leave us? ITunes. I know it’s not fashionable to say this, but it seems that music in the cloud is bust. What has worked for Netflix is not going to work for music.

  6. I disagree vehemently. I started with a 20GB Amazon cloud account & quickly bought a 100 GB account in less than 3 weeks after launch. I’ve purchased 30 or so ALBUMS since opening the account. Here’s why: interface is easy to use, when I access it on my android phone I have access to ALL my music without having to clog up my SD card or spend nearly $100 on a 32 GB sd. Its also easy to SEARCH your locker as well. I can listen to MY music ANYWHERE there’s an interet connection on ANYONE’s computer. Only the music industry could mess up something that could FINALLY re-vive peoples interest in GOOD music & actually SPENDING money on it!!

  7. OK, first, what licenses do they actually need? These services are nothing more than a place to put your ALREADY PURCHASED music on. It’s no different than your own personal hard drive, or iPod, except that it lets you play your music on more than one device. You can play a CD in more than one CD player, so why not an MP3?
    If anything, this will help musicians. It will allow people to create their own personalized Pandoras with music they like- music they buy.
    Yes this can be used for piracy, but if we use that as the basis for killing all innovation, then music is dead.
    I know the music biz is getting tougher and tougher, but charging twice for the same thing is not the answer.

  8. Why it’s a nonstarter for me:
    1. Not available on Apple products
    2. All it does is play music I already own, for which it should be free. Any amount above free is too much.
    3. I already have two external hard drives for back up. The Cloud Player is simply a third in the sky; not only that, it’s not even a back up as stated clearly by Amazon.
    4. Sound quality. Not as good as iTunes shared library.
    I uploaded less than 5 GB just to try it out, but I will never go above that amount because it costs way too much money to play music I already own.

  9. Agreed that they are lame, and I agree that subscriptions have their problems. I haven’t been able to listen to any Zappa, Explosions in the Sky, Radiohead’s new albums, Zeppelin….
    In my mind, subscription services are new (even though rhapsody has been around forever) because smartphones have revolutionized the whole thing. I would never use a service like Rdio if it wasn’t for my iPhone, but I think it’s really great what you can do with it. I love the easy access on the go and virtually infinite harddrive space.
    Think about it this was though with Amazon and Google’s cloud… If they let you stream your own music to your phone, you no longer need to shell out an extra $200 for a bigger harddrive on it.

  10. Agreed Bruce! Whole-heartedly.
    What has disappointed me about this process is the cheerleading from so many independents on a Major label play. We all know that eventually RIAA, the labels themselves and even PROs will decide how much, what, how and where this process will work for the rest of us – simply by defining licensing agreements and arriving at “profitable margins.”
    Sure it makes sense to them, it’s almost another format replacement cycle isn’t it? It fits into the Bright Subscription future- which will mostly aid legacy artists, out of prints, and hits- nicely. My fear is that when it breaks, and it surely will break fantastically (Sony hello?), it will be yet another black eye for the industry as a whole.
    Further Blogged my humble opinion on it here: “Ain’t No Sunshine – Cloud Music”

  11. How is Cloud innovative? You can only “stream” your music collection which depends on whether you have some kind of wifi or data connection to it! How about we just stick with getting our music off of our phones or iPods where they can be accessed and listened to ANYWHERE (except underwater). If its not broke, then don’t fix it! It’s just a trick. The majors are just trying to get the upper hand again and assert their dominance! Don’t let them!
    Free album download at

  12. The License they would need is for a single track that would be accessed by every user. Meaning… If you and I both want to listen to Sgt. Pepper, then we would both be listening to Google’s copy, not ours.

  13. Yeah, but that’s not how it works, nor should it be the way it works.
    The only thing is that if I want the song Ides of March by Iron Maiden, Google should be able to charge me and add it to my locker, but apparently the labels don’t like that idea. They’d rather screw over the artist and take a bazillion bucks up front just to let us put our music there.

  14. I couldn’t agree more with Bruce. This is exactly what we didn’t need the tech companies to invent. This is what happens when you can’t give the consumer what they want, they way they want it. The tech companies are just trying to satiate the listener any way they can and the music industry at large has forced them down this path. I just hope that the consumer finds it too clumsy and abandones it before we can get to a streaming solution that gives everyone what they need.

  15. “The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women’s fashion.”
    Larry Ellison about the whole cloud business…

  16. false. innovation = the myriad of ways independent artists (ie artists not signed to a label) have used to release their music…

  17. How about we stop funding this bullshit system and just download all of our music for free. That’s what i do and it’s fantastic!

  18. “Innovation is just a bullshit ploy by tech companies to screw artists.”
    Yes, it was terrible in the 1920s when tech companies invented radio. Good thing radio was beaten back, it was screwing artists.
    Yes, it was terrible in the early 20th century when tech companies invented sound recording: and even worse when it was improved in every decade of the 20th century. The musicians even went on strike once against recordings. Good thing that horrible sound-recording thing was beaten back, it was screwing artists.

  19. I don’t understand the negativity towards cloud services. once internet connectivity becomes the new utility (like electricity, gas, water) and is accessible everywhere then cloud makes way more sense than carrying round data on loads of different devices which can get lost/stolen or fail. they’re already trialling wi-fi on planes and in cars so before long it will be ubiquitous.

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