Aug 16, 2010

So maybe the Cloud for music streaming won't suck so bad after all.

Two weeks ago Aderra recorded the 2nd Annual SESAC bootcamp in Los Angeles at the Skirball Center. The leadoff key note was by Ted Cohen of TAG Strategic

Now I have made it clear that overall I think the unlimited Cloud access concept for music SUCKS for a few specific reasons: 1) Access is inherently limited by licensing, 2) Access is inherently limited by technology (can't call from my iPhone in most places let alone stream music) and 3)Psychology. People LIKE TO OWN STUFF. Access does NOT = OWNERSHIP.

BUT, Access does = CONVENIENCE.

We have recorded Ted 5 or 6 times in panel discussions but this was the first time I personally watched as he laid out his take on the history of digital music and the impending future. I have to say he made a very, very compelling case for the Cloud. You can gloss over connectivity as a barrier by assuming that technology will improve in the near future to allow of unlimited access but you cannot escape the psychology of ownership.

We have seen this in Aderra's business, downloads seem ephemeral to fans but a flash drive with the files is more than solid, it is in fact "real".
So after listening to Ted's insights I started to be swayed that the Cloud might be an exciting idea even if I had some misgivings about the primal instinct for ownership of something so emotionally resonant as music. But then I went camping.

Yes, camping with 23 of my neighbors and 22 of their kids.
Some interesting initial observations: 23 Adults aged 35-45, people brought 3 BOSE Sounddocks for their iPods/iPhones, 1 brought a similar JBL dock. NO ONE brought a CD player. No one brought CDs, no one brought a radio, boombox or other way to access, playback or stream music.

Next interesting observation: Music was playing loudly for the majority of the trip.
Powered mostly buy iTunes playlists.
The campground provided free broadband wifi access

Which meant constant access to Pandora.
Whether it was blues tinged evenings by the campfire or a dance party for the kids, it was all powered by Pandora. So at one point my neighbor Josh (who I have complained about his barking dog in my podcast...) asks me,
"Damn Ed, how many songs do you have on your iPod? Uh, not many, we've been listening to Pandora."
At that moment sitting in front of a campfire 20 minutes north of Santa Barbara I suddenly realized just how cool the Cloud could be. I have tried Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio in Beta and even Waltzo but I have never been satisfied. But Pandora has always been cool. I have to say I miss the good old days in 2004 or so when I could type in my friends indie acts and create a station around them (Joe and Tim, please open up your submission policy once again to create a TRUE discovery experience for those of us who do not rely on labels to filter for us.)

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