Streaming Music In The Cloud
Apple has been making a lot of noise recently regarding their proposed implementation of a cloud-based music service. The move makes sense, as Google and Amazon have been offering music-streaming services via cloud since 2011 when the technology first started to take off. So now that Apple’s monolithic music provider iTunes is moving in a cloud-based direction, it’s important to look at this method of accessing music in order to gauge its current and future viability.
Understanding the basics of music in the cloud
Cloud music, at its core is music streaming. Whole libraries of music can be uploaded to a cloud server and this music can then be streamed by anyone with access to said server. The idea of cloud was born of the current trend regarding music consumers and MP3s. While iTunes maintains its global popularity in the world of paid music downloads, people simply aren’t willing to spend thousands of dollars to fill their iPods with content.
Thus the idea of access rather than ownership is becoming ever more attractive.
The current realities of cloud music
With Apple throwing their hat in the ring with these other giant companies and creating a streaming service, one would think cloud is dominating the market. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. What Apple is really doing is betting on the future, and this is evident in the current numbers. For example, according to a survey by eMusic, roughly an equal portion of music consumers stream music, purchase music and download music. But according to an NDP research report only 6% of those using the Internet have used cloud services such as those on offer by Amazon and Google.
And while these numbers indicate the act of music streaming is certainly mainstream, they also indicate that the real test of cloud’s viability is in the year to come.
The economic model of streaming in the cloud
While streaming is proving increasingly popular among music fans, what the data also shows is that few people are interested in paying for the privilege. According to another study by eMusic, a mere 13% of consumers pay to stream music via cloud. So with few people willing to open their pocketbooks, the economic model of cloud will likely end up looking something like social games, where users can opt for a free service or pay for a premium service.
Cloud music streaming in the future
Whether cloud becomes the dominant form of accessing music or ends up forgotten by the masses largely depends on the promotional push behind cloud in the here and now. The cloud services on offer from Apple, Google and Amazon aren’t going to be much good without people using them. The key is simply getting enough people to use sites like these as well as sites like Spotify. But the trend is moving in a positive direction.
For example, iCloud is already experiencing significant growth. In the first six months since its launch it acquired 125 million users. What the company is not willing to be so open about is how many of these people are actually paying for premium service. And it’s just this data that will determine the long-term viability of cloud.
But at the very least streaming will play a major role in future music access. And if tech and social media trends are any indicator, cloud could end up bigger than anyone anticipates.
Would like to give a shout out to Justin Miller who is a professional blogger that helped with the research for this post. He also writes on a variety of topics including taking guitar lessons for JamPlay.com, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ guitar songs to learn in HD.
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