In the latest issue of Music & Copyright we included a special focus on cloud-based music services. It’s no secret that cloud technology offers the music industry enormous potential to reignite the digital sector at a time when the a la carte model of downloading is showing signs of age. Licensing issues have hindered rollouts and it would seem that the big players are waiting for a decision in the MP3tunes.com case before staking their claim.
The launch of Apple’s iTunes Music Store in 2003 transformed digital-music services and set a benchmark for all other digital-music services to follow. At launch, iTunes offered just 200,000 tracks in the AAC codec that contained DRM. This meant that any downloads were transferable only to Apple’s iPod portable music players and a limited number of PCs and Macs. At the time, analysts said the new service had a good chance of winning over skeptics.
Fast-forward to today and the service has sold more than 10 billion tracks and is still the leader in virtually all of the markets it is present in. But although the service is quite different from the one that launched in 2003, it remains essentially an a la carte download service. With singles and album downloads stagnating in most of the larger music markets, the world is now looking to Apple, and other larger technology companies, to take the digital-music market to the next level.
When Apple entered the download market, several other companies had already launched download services. Should Apple decide to launch a cloud service this year, it will again join a number of players already providing similar music services. Below are details of several cloud-based music services. The list is not completely comprehensive so if there are any services we have missed off please let me know and I will add them in. We’ve added a spreadsheet download option below the table.