Are you the type of person who needs to carry around your entire music library, or could you live with just streaming your music from a cloud based service? What if you could get that streaming service for free?
Apple has been in talks with some big wig music executives hoping to take everything old and make it new again. Reports are that iTunes.com, which will probably be run on the backbone of the Lala acquisition, is going to start offering a free music streaming service. It sounds great for those of us who sit at a computer all day, but what about those of us who are on the move all day? Can the 3G or even a 4G network handle this kind of load, or what about the traditional broadband services? Aren’t we stuck in a giant disconnect where broadband providers are trying to packet shape our connections because they can’t handle the explosion of multimedia on the internet? What are they going to say when instead of downloading a new album once, I’m downloading it 50 times because I just want to stream it over and over again? I hope we’re ready for a huge cryfest because it’s going to happen sooner or later.
From the RIAA groups perspective
If we’ve learned anything from the years of litigation the RIAA does not think that consumers own the rights to any music we’ve purchased over the last 50 years. You don’t really “own” that CD, instead you’ve purchased a right to listen to it, and that’s where it ends. No right to copy it, no right to move it to an iPod, and certainly no right to lend it to your friends. So, a streaming service is something they can easily get behind. Taking away consumer rights and forcing them into a corner by only allowing them to stream music might be a bit far off now but we should probably be looking for signs of that becoming the norm in the future.
It’s win-win-win situation for the RIAA.
From a consumers perspective
When it comes to consumers there’s bit of an ambiguous grey area when discussing the reality of streaming music from a cloud service. First, mobile devices are attached to spotty data plans with pathetic limits, so being able to stream your music when you want and how you want isn’t really all that feasible in the current telecommunications paradigm. What about those people who can’t even get “broadband” yet?
Second, a streaming concept is something that will work for people living in metropolitan areas, but those in surrounding areas will be left out of the loop. Sure, it doesn’t make all that much of a difference today, as physical media is still being sold, but what about in five to ten years when the RIAA starts pushing streaming technology instead of “purchasing” options? Things could get a little messy, and the FCC has a spotty track record at best when it comes to being proactive instead of reactive to technological innovations. Heck, in Canada the CRTC, which is the equivalent of the FCC, is a joke. They can’t handle a paradigm shift if their life depended on it. So, relying on them to insure that both respective countries have the technology backbone needed for streaming service is probably a bad idea.
Some final thoughts
If this streaming service is going to be a new alternative to purchasing music then it’s something that I can get behind, but if the real plan is to eventually phase out the purchase of music altogether, then I have a serious problem with Apple trying to implement a streaming service. We all know how much of a music buff Mr. Jobs is so I’m hopeful that this is a move to ensure that everyone on the planet will have access to great music, but the skeptic in me isn’t 100 percent sold on that concept.