AMAZON BEATS APPLE AND GOOGLE TO THE CLOUD, LAUNCHES “CLOUD PLAYER” MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE
From both talking to people in person and reading MS comments any time I tackle the issue, I’m hearing more and more folks claiming that as they gradually switch from CDs to digital downloads as their preferred music delivery method they slowly come to realize, “You know what? I guess I don’t need all my new music on CDs after all. I rarely touch the ones I have.” I’ve noticed this happen to even the staunchest of CD/physical medium supporters… including myself. Once you see the incredible time, money and space-saving qualities that digital file ownership has to offer you slowly start to get over your attachment to physical music products (also: don’t be a ninny, and make sure you back-up frequently). You need to experience the difference in order to really know.
Mark my words: the same thing is going to happen with the transition from digital file ownership to “the cloud,” which will offer on-demand music streaming at any time without any files stored on a hard drive, phone or other device. Today marks a big step in that direction, as Amazon has beaten Apple and Google to the punch by launching their digital Cloud Player for music.
Imagine instant, high-quality streaming of anything you want at any time for a low monthly fee. Folks will surely resist this concept and say “No way! What if I lose an Internet connection! What if I’m somewhere there’s no Internet! What if the cloud goes down?!” Those concerns are certainly founded, but time has a way of taking care of technological shortcomings. The real aversion people have that they’re trying to throw peripheral reasons at is the ingrained idea that ownership of something, anything, seems necessary to enjoy music. But remember when ownership of a physical product seemed crucial? And how you suddenly stopped giving a shit once you experienced otherwise? (Yes, I recognize some of you still require physical product… just wait five years). Same thing is going to happen with the move from digital file ownership to the cloud. I’m not positing or theorizing… I know this with 100% certainty. It is fact. It will happen. Do not fight me on this because, like my dad used to say, “because I said so.”
Amazon’s Cloud Player isn’t quite like Spotify or MOG, both of which work as I described above. Instead, Amazon’s is more like your own personal music storage space you can access from anywhere; you’ve still got to buy files and store them somewhere that belongs to you (Amazon MP3 purchases happen automatically, while other music [including non-DRM iTunes purchases] you’ll have to upload manually). But it’s a step in the right direction, an intermediary phase that might help ease music fans into the idea of streaming music from the cloud.
The service will work from your computer or Android phone. No iPhone version is available because Apple is presumably planning a similar service and will likely make the approval process of a competing app extremely difficult for Amazon. Users will be given 5 GB of free storage to start, but they can easily bump that up to 20 GB if they simply purchase one album via Amazon. After that, it’s just $1 per additional GB.
I haven’t yet tried Cloud Player out, but I fully intend on giving it a whirl the next time I purchase music on Amazon. Have any of you out there checked it out? What do you think?