Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Amazon Cloud Player vs. Music Industry

This issue caused significant disruption to my workflow today. I posted a link to an article I found on the subject to Facebook and began asking questions. The three people I really wanted to collect opinions from ended up offering them up during the course of the thread. I really didn't know what to think but I assumed everyone with an internet connection familiar and with cloud computing would be quickly forming their own opinion.

As yet, I haven't formed mine.

Ian D. Mosley, a Graduate Student at Idaho State University Department of Sociology, Social Work & Criminal Justice said this about what he thought Amazon was doing:

"Expanding public access to information, ideas and perspectives. Removing the barriers between ideas and people. The digital world is growing, whether /they/ like it or not."

I think that with regard to cloud computing he's absolutely correct. People tend to go toward outcomes that give them more choices. I have a hard time thinking of a single person I couldn't talk into getting a DropBox account. Having more options relative to the access of your own data is a good thing. I think Ian's wise to see it that way.

Chris DeMarcus, a skilled musician and producer, who used to teach music business courses weighed in as well. He was concerned that people would use the service for nefarious purposes and that the laws governing the protection of copyrights were antiquated. I wondered if the changing of the law could help the situation because I'm a creative independent as well. He said this:

"I think the problem can't be solved. It's like when recorded music came out and you didn't have to hire a band anymore, or when PAs became so big, you just needed a DJ. Getting an album is a boutique thing. There is also so many other forms of alternative entertainment; Film, Cable TV, Video Games, and random other stupid amusements that keep human happy, unless you permeate into these markets, you're not going to live on your music. It will be a hobby. The only way to move into these markets is from the top down, with the aid of a label. That's how you're going to be the next NIN, Metallica, Coldplay, or U2."

Somewhat bleak, but apt.

I know you can self-publish through Amazon. I'm wondering if they will eventually include a social networking aspect like Apple's "Ping" that could be exploited by independent folks to promote their music or gain traction in the marketplace. I'd really like to see a situation where a regular Joe or Art could compete for attention in the global marketplace. I don't see why Amazon wouldn't push something like that, for them... sales are sales, right? While I'm dreaming, I'd like a flock of unicorns and a firmware update for my Samsung Focus.

Matthew Klundt, a Videographer & iOS Developer said that removing the middle man would make services like Amazon's Cloud Player better for creators and consumers. I wondered who he thought the middlemen were exactly. He said this:

"I see the labels being the problem middlemen between an artist and their customers. It is history repeating, VHS, CD's, internet, cloud. Industries who miss the technology forefront go down kicking and screaming (down, but not out)."

I agree that the Record Labels are part of the problem in that they themselves have become reliant on Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and others to peddle their digital goods to consumers. If there is going to be a middleman, there might only be room for one in what is already a pretty competitive market. I have the same questions and concerns about my novels. Do I want to go through a traditional publisher who in turn goes through yet another middleman to sell my book to an audience seeking digital reading material? Or, do I decide to approach Amazon and try to promote myself?

I don't honestly know the answer at this time.

Creative folks everywhere, I'm sure, are watching stuff like this. I'm wondering if it will help the little guy or more firmly assert the dominance of the traditional checkpoints between creator and consumer.

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