In addition to continuing information about Apple’s highly anticipated iCloud service, it was reported today via TechCrunch that Apple’s new iCloud/iTunes Match service will come with an added feature: laundering your existing music collection and storing new, legit files in the cloud, for just $25 per year (up to 25k songs).

Holy Shit.  The Major Labels Agreed to This?

What can I say but WOW.  That is amazing.

For all of the things that the major labels won’t allow other cloud services to do (without paying), like store one file instead of duplicates, or play a lower bit rate file via mobile than via the web, to let Apple basically turn your potentially-illegitimate music collection legit is not just one step forward; it seems to be the biggest embrace of technology that I’ve ever seen from the music industry.

Now, before we go too far by assuming that the majority of what this will be used for is to clean up old stolen music collections, let me just make my opinion clear: This is an amazing thing for Apple and for the music industry, and congrats to both for this move.

Why is this an amazing move?

Say what you will about the potentially lackluster service that Apple will provide, or the historical track record of the major labels.  This move by both seems genius to me for a handful of reasons:

  1. It generates $25 in revenue from music that you either already paid for once, or never paid for at all.  This is found money and I am sure a pretty penny goes from Apple to the labels for this guilty pleasure.  The bad news is, I’ll be surprised if any goes to the artists – but does that really shock anybody?
  2. For millions of people who may have previously been the file-sharing type but are, through new convenient services, starting to go more legit, it may very well accelerate this process by giving them a clean slate.  When you can suddenly have legit files in the cloud and delete your illegitimate files to get rid of former evidence, your inclination to download illegally again might be drastically reduced.  That being said, maybe now you are more inclined to download some illegal stuff and then just cleanse it in the cloud.
  3. This is a ridiculously strong move by Apple because, loving to box you into their products, they have made it clear so far that their service will only be available on Apple devices.  In other words, want to take your music collection legit?  Okay, if you only ever listen to it on Apple products.
  4. This may be the one feature that gets someone who never pays for music to pay for music.  It seems unlikely that someone who owns a massive collection of unpaid-for music will suddenly pay for the new Amazon or Google services, which take a long time to sync and don’t provide a seamless mobile experience.  But putting your entire (potentially ill-gotten) collection in the cloud, with a service that will almost certainly offer a better mobile experience seems like something any real music enthusiast might consider.

Whether the new apple service will be that exciting is another question.  As someone with an Android who never uses iTunes, it’s really not that appealing to me.  But this new feature is definitely unexpected and will be interesting to watch roll out.  And, congrats to the music industry for taking a big risk – although I think it’s a bit of a no-brainer to collect royalty-free money from music people already have, particularly when file sharing is reportedly on the decline.

Joey Flores
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