Pop star Katy Perry is perched comfortably in the clouds in her video for California Gurls. And that’s where most of our music will be as well if Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has its way.
It’s new Cloud Drive promises to let consumers store about a thousand songs on the company’s Web servers for free and play them over an Internet connection through web browsers and devices running Android software. More storage is available for an additional fee.
Rutgers media professor Aram Sinnreich says, “It’s kind of been the holy grail for about a decade. Everyone has talked about what has been known as the great jukebox in the sky. The idea that your music would live somewhere in the cloud and you would be able to press a button no matter where you are.”
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But the service is hitting a sour note with the music industry.
The problem: music labels were only informed recently. And only after that did Amazon say it was trying to negotiate licenses for music streaming. Consumers are allowed to store music files on their own computers but it is unclear whether those rights extend to remote storage devices offered by cloud computing.
In the meantime, the music industry is crying foul.
Billboard Senior Correspondent Phil Gallo says, “The user can build their music collection time up in the clouds without using their own computer space, eventually they will have to start paying for that space. Who makes money? Amazon. Who doesn’t make money? The labels. They are only going to get their money from the sale of the downloads. That’s where they say wait a minute, did we get enough money from the download to allow somebody to stream this wherever they go?”
Rivals Apple and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) are expected to launch similar services, and have purchased cloud-based music systems. Both are believed to be negotiating legal issues with the music industry.
Bottom line: The launch of Amazon’s cloud music service highlights a legal gray area for the music industry.