Thanks to Apple’s $500m data centre investment, songs purchased on iTunes can already be accessed on up to ten devices via the free iCloud service (which replaces MobileMe, “not our finest hour”, admitted Jobs).
But the biggest news of yesterday’s WWDC keynote was the iTunes Match service. Clearly the fruit of Apple’s 2009 acquisition of Lala, it will allow from this autumn iTunes users to sync their entire collections to the cloud – including songs not bought on iTunes – for just $25/year. Of course, there are conditions: your songs have to be in iTunes’ 18 million-song catalogue so it can ‘match’ them. If not, they are uploaded to iCloud. And your collection can be no bigger than 25,000 songs if you want all of it acessible everywhere.
So in other words, Apple is making its whole catalogue accessible via the cloud. Users will as such be able to scan and match their collections in minutes, as opposed to taking what Apple qualified as “weeks” to upload all their music to Google or Amazon. Here’s how Jobs cheekily compared the services (photo via engadget):
iTunes Match is as such a direct jab at the locker services recently launched – without labels’ consent – by Google and Amazon rather than Apple’s attempt to take on subscription/rental services like Spotify, Rdio or Deezer. And compared both with Amazon’s service ($50-200/year) and with the now-defunct MobileMe ($100/year) the price is a steal.
Hypebot editor and frequent MIDEMBlog contributor Bruce Houghton welcomed the news. “It’s easy to get caught up in the cult of Apple, but today they deserve credit for navigating rightsholders historically resistent to change, and — to quote Tunecore’s Jeff Price — ‘monetised pirated music‘,” Houghton told MIDEMBlog.
Indeed, Price just told Hypebot that “the most radical part of iTunes Match… is that now rightsholders can “make money off of music not bought the first time around”.”
“How different things would be if something like this this had been done in the original Napster era,” added Houghton. “Even today, if a reasonable percentage of Apple device users adopt iTunes Match, it will mean significant ongoing revenue for the music industry; and much of it, as in the vinyl-to-CD era, from music people have already paid for their music at least once. But along with their reported $100 million in advances, the major labels may have also have just cemented Apple’s dominant place in music.”
For The Futures Agency CEO and fellow frequent MIDEMBlogger Gerd Leonhard, iCloud is “a good step forward” for music; “but it falls quite short of ‘music like water’. Consumers will still have to buy ‘music like Evian’ only to be then able to move it around various ‘glasses’ aka the cloud. Steve can do better, surely, but music licensing is still hell-bound on selling more copies.”
Spotify told MIDEMBlog they do not comment on competitors: but the sigh of relief from music streaming companies is almost tangible.
Now, watch this space!