Amazon has launched a cloud based music service that allows users to store their own music in music lockers and then listen to it on computers and other streaming devices. It’s been rumored that both Google and Apple are readying similar services, so this move by Amazon puts them ahead of the pack. They’re hardly the first – services like MP3Tunes have been offering a similar service for over a year.
But moving early gave them the nifty name – they’re calling it Amazon Cloud, making it difficult for Apple or Google to use the word Cloud in their branding. I’m sure part of their thinking in launching early is to capture the word Cloud and associate it with their product.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this new service is the legal stand that Amazon took in launching it. While rumors of Apple and Google’s cloud based music streaming platforms have been brewing, supposedly delayed by tedious negotiations with the record labels, Amazon just went ahead and did it, taking the position that the music loaded in the lockers is owned by the user and no further licensing is needed.
Michael Robertson, Founder of MP3Tunes, has been in a legal battle over such issues with the record companies. His post about Amazon’s new service on his blog cheers Amazon’s entry into the space. “I must admit, it’s great to have a giant corporate ally in the battle against the record labels that are fighting against user’s storing their personal music libraries online.”
Amazon Cloud is definitely intended to increase sales from the AmazonMP3 store. Songs purchased through the store are automatically loaded into your personal music locker in Amazon Cloud. The service is well integrated with Android, and not integrated with iPhone. It does sync with iTunes. Several reviews point out that it seems to be pretty basic, look for further developments and improvements.
There’s definitely a trend among online behemoths (like Google, Apple) to purchase hip streaming music platforms (like Simplify, Lala) as tools for an upcoming entree into the streaming music marketplace.
Amazon will be shutting down the service and reportedly focusing on Songza, a recommendation based streaming service purchased by Amie Street in 2008. Customers who have credit at Amie Street can use it before September 22.
The company was started by several students at Brown University in 2006. Amazon invested in them in 2007. They’ve been kind of struggling since then, trying to be innovative, and work with the big labels, and hold true to independents, and make some money.
So now Amazon joins in the race to launch the perfect streaming music platform. There’s plenty of room in the pool..
JL NOTES: There are some reporting that Amie Street founders will remain independent and working on Songza and that Amazon takes over only Amie Street the download platform.
Michael Robertson thinks people should be able to listen to their digital music anywhere on any device. That’s exactly what MP3tunes sets out to do.
Robertson, the founder of MP3tunes, is a huge advocate of cloud based music services. He’s no stranger to the vengeance that record labels have when it comes to protecting digital song copyright law (as they define it.) In fact, he’s actually taken it on the chin before against the record companies – in the late 90′s he founded MP3.com, which he eventually sold to CNET after losing an expensive legal battle with Universal. His new service MP3tunes is currently involved in a lawsuit with EMI over copyright infringement issues.
“I think ownership is critical important in the digital age and worth fighting for.” said Robertson. “I think consumers should be able to choose where they want to use their digital property as they can with their physical property. I don’t want a corporation to be able revoke or limit access – as we’ve seen happening with Apple and Amazon.”
MP3tunes currently has over 500,000 registered users who upload their entire music collection to servers and access it from wherever they want. MP3tunes works on multiple smartphones platforms: Android, iPhone/iTouch, (iPad version waiting for approval) and many Internet radio devices (it’s compatible with devices that use vTuner and Reciva firmware.) This week they’ll introduce a deal with Roku that will enable access to music lockers on televisions.
Currently, the business model is a freemium model that offers listeners smaller sized lockers for free and charge a subscription fee for more storage space. But additional revenue sources like e-commerce and advertising may be in the cards as well.
Tunecore, a company that enables artists to sell their music on digital platforms without a label, has released some interesting data on digital music behavior. Tunecore is a digital music distribution service that set out to democratize music distribution by making it simple and affordable for any artist to offer songs for sale. For a fee, an independent artist can place their song in selected online stores and streaming services and receive compensation based on the number of sales it generates.
Artists register with TuneCore, select the online platforms they would like to have their music placed on, upload their songs, pay, and get paid for every song sold or streamed with those services. Last year the service placed 61,000,000 songs and artists received $32,000,000 in compensation. TuneCore takes no percentage of the revenue artists earn. They work placing music with iTunes, Rhapsody, MySpace Music, Amazon, eMusic and others.
Artists can earn money from two different types of sales – permanent downloads, where customers purchase the song and download a file; and streams – where a listener pays a subscription fee to listen to songs – in that case, the listener is actually “leasing” the song, as TuneCore’s faq’s explain.
In 2009, 40% of TuneCore’s sales were from single track downloads and 57% were from streaming (which is per song). The other 2.3% of revenues were full album downloads. For song downloads, Rock is the most popular genre, followed by Alternative and Hip Hop. For streaming sales, Hip Hop wins followed by Alternative and Rock. Sunday is the best day for sales and Christmas day and the day after were the biggest days for song sales in the last six months. There’s even more data available, here.