It is obvious that digital music is not to replace or sustain rapidly the decline of albums sale. Piracy is becoming more and more sophisticated as ‘stick’ becomes present.
Is cloud music a tool to help earn more money?
Before answering this question it is necessary to analyse briefly the reasons behind piracy.
Of course it is free music. But many other reasons have led to this state. Often, the quality of legally downloaded mp3s was far better on P2P sites. With the various DRM systems, the user was stuck to a particular device/player; P2P was the solution. People have access to records that are old, even not licensed; the offer is larger and so they go on using P2P.
Music in the Cloud is becoming a de facto standard.
Has it solved the previous issues? Partially. In the meantime the quality has improved. Some catalogues are still poor. Innovation must be found in the commercial offers.
Generally it starts with free, ad-supported offers and then ranges up to subscription and premium offers. They are slight differences between the internet (PC, Mac) and the iPhone offers, depending on the companies (eg. Spotify).
To the usual user requirements (listen anywhere, whatever the device is), new ones have been added with the evolution of culture.
People do love music, but a new trend arising is the fundamental need to share their creativity. We can see with YouTube, numerous examples of remixing. Completely illegal of course, but proving that innovation must not be only on the user side.
We must find new legal frameworks allowing users to pay. They are the basis of new monetisation sources. Cloud computing is the place for cooperative projects where amateur (or professional) musicians can find tools to create, digital elements to build on.
Technical mechanisms (like protocols) are to be defined (under definition for some of them) to let imagination live.
The combination of these new legal frameworks and technical mechanisms applied to Cloud music is clearly one way to monetising digital music.