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I wonder how many people have really thought through the implications of locker services. Namely cloud services where you store your music externally and then access it as you want it, on demand. I am sure that the labels in the US will try to stop their development, but is there a hope in hell of achieving this? If the right offer is put up at the right price, will anything put the public off using them? The portability of one’s complete music collection is very attractive, where the only requirement is connectivity and some device; especially when access is provided to ‘all the music’.

If it is considered reasonable to store all one’s music collection on one’s hard drive why not store it on one’s locker, just like my e-mail is stored by some external service in Canada (I think). But where is the locker, and under whose legal jurisdiction? How does the locker know that I own the tracks I send them?

Can I send the key to my locker to my friends? If my collection contains mainly tracks that have been previously stored does it need to actually store my actual music collection or is it only virtually stored?

Can the locker service manipulate and programme my music for me? If so can it then provide me with music it thinks I might like? If so, presumably I would buy a service from them.  But this raises the question whether this is the real game for the services, namely selling me a curated/personalised music service built around my actual and then probable or possible taste.

How on earth does this sort of service get licensed by the content owners and what are they licensing? Consumers will be very upset to have to pay for storing their content and then having to pay a lot for using it. Indeed if that is all that is happening it is hard to imagine that the services will pay or get paid much. Maybe just knowing the customers choice in music is enough value for the services, but I don’t think so.

I suspect the services will be very hard to pinpoint territorially, and also easy to move.

This whole structure could develop into a hybrid between a radio station, a public library and my complete portable music collection. But surely it would be too much hassle to put up all my records into the locker , if it is not already digitised. So maybe the service would just let me tell them that these are all records I have bought and make me sign an bit of paper as a fig leaf. Is anyone going to check my honesty at home to see if I have all the records I said I had, and are they going to check that I paid for them , even on vinyl 45 years ago?

Now it is all too complicated. Control finally has to be surrendered and the locker services need to be licensed like radio stations, with a basic payment by the customer permitting access to the library. There would be subsequent additional payments made by the customer for added value services, and a portion of all those fees would be paid to the rights holders. In addition better quality files, sleeves, lyrics, videos, extra live concert packages, access to the artists etc could help get the serious and richer fans to manifest their enthusiasm by parting with even more money. Working with the artists, additional services and access could be obtained by the services. In other words building scarcity back into the system, and opening up the possibility of new competition.

It seems to me that the industry has to face up to this challenge in the immediate future because if the services are not licensed then they will just develop unlicensed, and Napster and p2p will seem like vicarage tea parties. The industry must not let the window of opportunity close, and it has to be realistic in thinking about how they can work with these services to their mutual benefit, rather than trying to rape them out of existence. This latest development provides an opportunity for a new start, maybe we can work with it, and get into the habit of working with the technology rather than against it, and thinking about ways in which the carrier and the creators can rebuild their businesses and at the same time the public get new, better, simpler customised services which go with the customer wherever there is connectivity.


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About Author

James Martin

James Martin is Head of Social Media for Midem organisers Reed MIDEM. This includes defining and rolling out Midem's social media strategy, editing midemblog, influencer outreach, developing Midem's fanbase of 75,000+ music professionals and more.

1 Comment

  1. Sorry, not going to happen. What you call “locker” services are really just cloud storage solutions that can easily interface with the music software on my devices. The music industry will have no way to control this. I can already put all my music in box.net, dropbox, or my Google storage. As soon as Chrome OS starts to take off there will be a dozen more services that offer the same functionality – file storage. Not music specific storage. The music industry will have no way to claim any jurisdiction over these services. I don’t know what the answer is for the industry but I’m pretty sure this will be just another loss for them.

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