UPDATE Google to Music Biz: Kiss Our Ass

 

Google makes a power
play? Well, what would YOU do: shoot the horse and send it to the glue factory,
or keep housing and feeding it for another X number of years?

 

By Fred Mills

 

UPDATE 7pm: Billboard.biz has added a story on why the labels and Google could not come to an agreement on licenses, and why Google went ahead and launched without their blessings. 

 

Cloud-based music services, aka digital music lockers: you
might’ve heard of ‘em. Possibly back in March, when Amazon unveiled their Amazon
Cloud Drive
and related digital ephemera aimed at letting you store your music
collection online (well, part of it, anyway; up to 5 gigs, about 1000 songs,
are free, but then it will cost you $100 a year for 100 GB) instead of on your
hard drive or your basement shelves, and not incidentally, also aimed at
convincing you to buy product from their MP3 store.

 

Now this week comes the big news that Google is launching
its own cloud service, called at the moment Music Beta, where you can stuff
that storage locker full of tunes and, like the Amazon deal, stream and
download from pretty much any web-connected location you happen to find
yourself at. You can get all the details at the Billboard.biz report that ran
yesterday – including the part about it being an invite-only deal at the moment
(but don’t let that hold you back) -as well as this followup report that
includes illustrations and Google’s promo video (also below).

 

The fascinating part, however, is that just like Amazon,
Google is launching without licensing agreements with the major labels. One
Google exec is quotes as saying the company had been in protracted negotiations
with the majors, but that they “were less focused on innovation and more on
demanding unreasonable and unsustainable business terms.” Google added
that they “remain open to partnerships with the music industry” but as you
might imagine, that’s just a tactful way of saying, “Hey, we’re going to move
forward whether you fucking like it or not, but get in touch when you decide
you don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.”

 

Indeed, industry observer Wayne Rosso, of the respected “Wayne’s
World” blog, astutely suggests in his latest entry that much of this was inevitable, and
that both Amazon and Google intend to remain out in front on cloud service
issues as all signs suggest this is exactly what the consumers have been
wanting. (In my opinion, it may be more a case of consumers not knowing what
they want, but will always gravitate towards something new and cool, and then
the voting-with-pocketbook ensues.) More important, unless the labels figure
out how to cooperate with Google and Amazon in a mutually beneficial, as
opposed to one-sided, manner, their hopes of reviving their near-terminal
patient will continue to diminish.

 

Writes Rosso, “Frankly I’m thrilled that Google decided to move forward
without label cooperation. It’s time that major record labels got knocked from
their pedestals and hopefully realize that they don’t necessarily have all of
the leverage any longer. For years label arrogance cost investors tens of
millions of wasted dollars. Nobody wants to deal with them. Since Google and
Amazon have launched services without going through licensing hell, maybe
investors will be more willing to come back to the digital music sector.

 

“In the meantime the unlicensed Google music service, along with Amazon’s,
could very well be the deathblow to a recording industry that is currently on
life support. Unreasonable demands have now cost the labels a lot of money and
it’s unlikely that they’ll ever see a dime from Google. They were counting on
Google to help save them from Apple and bring them some big coin.”

 

As one wag put it to me, “Across the Atlantic
we’ve been seeing the uprisings of the Arab Spring. Maybe this is the beginning
of the Cloud Service Spring…”

 

 

 

 

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