Lockers vs Streaming Services

I'm on vacation so I'll keep this short.

I don't get the idea of music locker services like the one Amazon just announced. If I'm going to stream music from the cloud, why should I continue to buy files and collect them? I've been a Rhapsody subscriber for something like 11 or 12 years and although it has taken a while to get used to, I vastly prefer subscription streaming services over file based music. I've just stared using rdio on my Android and on the web and I love it too. I've used Spotify and it is also excellent (once it is fully licensed in the US).

Locker services seem like they are designed to continue the physical model of collecting music and buying music when there is a new and better way – just subscribe to music dial tone and listen to whatever you want wherever you want.

I'm bearish on locker services and bullish on subscription streaming services.

#My Music#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Tony Bacigalupo

    I see it as a bridge. A lot of people know and love their MP3 collections on their computers, so getting them to translate that to the cloud opens them up to eventually forgetting their files altogether.I’ve been using subscription services for 6 years and love them (currently in love with Rdio), but I’ve never quite had the same sense of ownership as I did over my MP3 collection… a lot of which is not available on the streaming services. Those will be the files I put on Cloud Player.Long term, I’m with you. But in the short term, I think it’s a useful way to transition people off their hard drives.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, totally a the world of streaming music, playlists are the new collections

    2. kidmercury

      i’m joining this bandwagon here. totally a bridge. cool people have already migrated to the future — streaming. lockers may be a good way of getting money out of the slow pokes.

      1. Ciaran

        “cool people have already migrated to the future — streaming”Damn, so now I’m officially not cool anymore.Here’s my problem(s) with streaming:It needs a connection. Have you ever been to the West of Ireland?It requires a full library. As someone above said, what about that 12” remix of Black Gold Of The Sun by 4hero?I’m hostage to pricing policies: the cost of streaming could suddenly go up – I can’t be charged twice for files.I like owning stuff. See Amazon & the copies of 1984 that it took back.In some ways, IMO, it removes the fact of serendipity. For me to find something new, I just have to hit shuffle on my collection of 20k odd songs. Streaming, I have to search out an interesting playlist.Listen, I don’t doubt that I may be in a minority on this blog, or in the wider world (though I’m not convinced about the latter). But to write off things that allow you to physically own content, and access it anywhere, can’t be ignored.However, having said that, I can currently carry tens of thousands of songs on my iPod, which I already own, and even more on my 1TB portable hard-drive, which cost around £100 – this would cost me a fortune on Amazon’s service.



  2. Andrew Brown

    For the next few years I think a hybrid model is going to be the right approach. Streaming services are better than collecting files in pretty much every way- until you don’t have an internet connection. Probably 50% of the time I’m listening to music I’m in a place with a spotty or non-existent data connection (NYC subway, some airplanes, etc.) so purely streaming services are a non-starter for me.Ideally I’d like a streaming service that let’s me sync a particular collection to my hard drive on demand.

    1. Aaron Berlin

      Rdio does exactly this on mobile.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        So does Spotify. I think most streaming services are implementing this in their mobile apps. It’s usually a premium feature, but one most people will pay for.

    2. fredwilson

      agreed. but i am talking streaming vs lockers. not streaming vs itunes.

      1. Kman

        in my mind, iTunes is a locker, albeit for Apple devices and PCs.

        1. Robert Holtz

          Fred is talking about a cloud locker not local storage. Although most people believe Apple’s acquisition of Lala is about adding a cloud locker to the existing iTunes service. If/when they do that, iTunes will be the closest thing to that hybrid service provider that lets you “own” your music collection but have the ubiquity of a streaming service. But until such time, iTunes is not a locker by any means. A locker is cloud-based storage that is independent of local storage or synchronization. The best way to describe iTunes at present is as a download service.

    3. cyanbane

      I use a locker in tandem with rdio and now amzn (used to be audiobox). Beatles, Zeppelin, live shows etc and such that don’t make it to rdio that I have already in my collection are listened to via locker services. ties it all together with scrobbling/analytics (which I hope is down the pipe for amazon)

    4. sbmiller5

      Andrew, you can do that with our offline playlists at Grooveshark – – save playlists offline and access on your Android, Blackberry or jailbroken iPhone. Check out this link for $20 for an entire year worth of this service (normally $108)Sorry to everyone for all the different comments, I wish their was a way for me to reply privately to different comments.

  3. Ben Roesch

    To me, the biggest difference is that if I choose to end my subscription, I no longer have access to the music. If I own the digital file, I don’t have to maintain a sub to keep access to it.

    1. fredwilson

      i guess so. but i’ve never cancelled my subscription in 12 years. once youhave one of them, its like your electrical or phone bill.

      1. hv23

        I guess I’m waiting for that 1 killer service (that has all the music I want, and works the way I like) that I’ll never have to end my subscription to. Maybe Spotify’s that service.

      2. RichardF

        if it’s like my electricity bill, it’s only going to go up in price!



        1. Robert Holtz

          Precisely. Lockers wouldn’t be needed if we could count on the permanence of streaming services. This is not a technology problem. This is an intellectual property rights licensing problem.Rights-holders are used to being paid for EACH window of exploitation of their media property for runs of each property in a given media. It is media as a PRODUCT not as a SERVICE. The way rights agreements have worked historically and are likely to work for still many years to come, the rights-holders just aren’t interested in what amounts to a permanent license.Enter the locker. It is actually a rather ingenious solution. Rights-holders can extend usage windows using the traditional model, consumers can own their media, and the locker offers the ubiquity of the cloud that makes it feel like a pure-play streaming service.As I’ve said, to me the perfect future solution is a combo between streaming and a locker. I pay a monthly fee to get access to the library as it stands and if I like something a LOT, I might pay an extra transactional fee on a one-time per-title basis to own that title permanently and it goes into my locker. That way, at some future date when, as @FakeGrimlock so eloquently said it, “LAWYERS CANCEL SUBSCRIPTION FOR YOU” to a given title, I’d still have access to it as part of MY collection.

  4. Egnaro

    The problem I have with subscription services is what do I do with the thousands of DJ sets, live performances, remixes, self-made recordings from small local bands and other mp3’s that make up a regular part of my listening experience. Seems unlikely to me that a subscription service is going to offer much beyond what the major labels provide.

    1. Steve Poland

      I’m with Rick. I don’t think subscription streaming services are fully there yet — hence Fred, your post on The Streets. What about all the live concerts, remixes, small bands.Maybe in 10 years, but heck, this is like 16 years later already and we’re still not anywhere close to what Napster, LimeWire or AudioGalaxy use to offer me back in the day [everyone in the world’s collections]. I’d pay for that. As a streaming service.

      1. fredwilson

        as i said to rick, that was part of, but not the only reason we invested insoundcloud. a lot of that stuff is on soundcloud for streaming.

    2. fredwilson

      ah, great question!they are increasingly showing up on and that was a part ofthe reason we invested in soundcloud last year.

      1. Mark Burstiner

        Yes, but Soundcloud doesn’t integrate with anything else as of yet, so we can’t get it all in one place. Plus, not every artist on Soundcloud leave the tracks available for download. Sure, you can rip them, but at that point, you’re back to square one. If I could feed Soundcloud streams into another service, great, but I’m not interested in getting any more disjointed with my music habits than I already am. (iTunes, Sonos, Rdio at home, DoubleTwist (now replaced with Amazon), Rdio, on Mobile) I just want one place. I miss Lala.

        1. ShanaC

          Ok, so I am not the only one who finds that frustrating

        2. fredwilson

          integration is key, totally agree

      2. Robert Holtz

        I’m a huge fan of SoundCloud and, as you know, part of the appeal there is also as a collaboration tool between musical artists and producers.I’ve been on every side of this download versus streaming / own versus subscribe model and I have to say that when all is said and done I am actually very bullish on the locker concept and I’ll tell you why.When iTunes started, it was the first legit model for digital music. We were all used to OWNING our music in physical format so owning it on a local drive or an iPod was already a big leap — owning the bits and not the packaging. After a few years, my lack of interest in the subscription model was simply because of barrier of entry. I had already amassed an enormous collection of iTunes tracks, several iPods, iPhones, Airplay nodes, networks, in-car systems, etc… I bought into the whole infrastructure/ecosystem so I had no interest in breaking from it.Then came Netflix. I had already been a Netflix physical DVD customer since their own inception so they easily converted me into a streaming customer (especially since with Netflix you get it really for free if you’re already a physical disc customer). I quickly loved the idea of having all the world’s movies at my fingertips anytime I wanted and consequently as iTunes has come to offer movies and TV shows to own or rent, I have taken no interest because I had this vast resource of all-I-can-eat content at my fingertips with Netflix. And I downloaded the iOS app for it and bought a Roku then a Boxee as well as the newer Apple TV (which lets you reach your Netflix content). It seemed antiquated for me to want to download and have to store movies. UNTIL!One day I had a buddy over and wanted to show them an old movie that I had already watched end-to-end on Netflix. I didn’t even want to watch the whole movie, I just waned to cue up to a particular scene. The movie was GONE. I was distraught. I saw it in my viewing history… I tried to bring it up. I even contacted Netflix. Answer? They no longer had a license to provide that movie and it was gone from the library perhaps forever. I was stunned.It has brought me to this middle ground where I enjoy the convenience, especially the ubiquity of a service like Netflix so I don’t need to think about whether I have a local copy or how many machines I can authorize and whether I sync’d the right content or not. I love just being able to plug into the cloud. But at the same time, ever since that challenge and knowing all that I do about the precarious nature of changing IP rights especially for providers like Netflix, I’m finding myself on iTunes buying the content that I want to make sure can never be taken away from me. In fact the experience almost made me want to go back to physical DVD and Blu-Ray.A cloud locker seems to me the best of both worlds. I would especially favor a service that blurs the lines between the two models which I think is the destiny for iTunes. Let me get the vast library of all that is possible from the cloud. Let me decide I like something enough to add it to my permanent collection and with a click (or a tap on my multi-touch device) BUY something and have it discreetly stored in my cloud locker for me. And let all of it live in the cloud for me to access from wherever I may be through whatever device I choose.The big difference between a media locker and something more generic like Dropbox is the I/O integration. While one could certainly find their iTunes content and through their OS drag and drop the files up to the cloud and back down up and down and all around, that’s not very elegant. The idea of these lockers is that the content can be stored and streamed from anywhere and the process of moving the content from place to place, should be seamless and elegant and fast. Its consumer packaging… but packaging that I think the public will appreciate.I was one of the earliest proponents of cloud computing and I can say that the good news is, in the past the consumer really didn’t know what cloud was, what the value proposition was or why they should care. Increasingly they full grasp the power of non-local storage and pay-as-you-go (what engineers understand as resource elasticity). Just a few short years ago, the public wasn’t savvy enough for these distinctions to register as product differentiators but happily people generally get it now and they’re embracing the cloud more than ever.To me, use-specific lockers are more valuable to me than a generic Dropbox (although I have one). The value-add, as I said, is in the integration. So that at a certain point, as a user, I won’t even care where precisely the data resides… I’ll just push PLAY and away we go.(Thanks for indulging the long post).

        1. fredwilson

          lots of interesting points. we will see how this plays out. my bet is on subscription but you do make some sold points in favor of lockers. i know that i have no interest in a locker

    3. mikedibenedetto

      I agree. And as a musician with a lot of musician friends, it is really important to me to be able to listen to my own band’s songs and my friends’ songs as soon as they are recorded. Ideally, a service would recognize songs not in their system and add the local version to your playlists so you could seamlessly stream a popular song followed by song stored on your device.

  5. Dennis Buizert

    The thing that bothers me the most is that ISP will start putting caps on your data plans. At least that is happening here in the Netherlands. It used to be unlimited but now that everything has become streaming they put a cap and if you pay a 25 euro P.M. extra you can go unlimited. And still the service is crappy and slow.Also this makes it suspicious to me, how will they control illegal downloading/uploading to your own stream? They say in their T&C that you must own legal copy etc. for the products. How will they monitor it? Will they suddenly go “oh you can only buy from Amazon”? Because if thats the case ill continue using others like Spotify.

    1. Aaron Berlin

      They can’t really monitor it. Basically this will work just like taxes on CD-Rs in Canada that compensate the labels – if the studios manage to get a cut of the hosting fees! That seems to be an open question.

      1. Dennis Buizert

        Did those taxes really work? I think if the music industry is willing to change and except the changes and get less cocky we could have been there already.Like I said, so much regulations and requirements it is just “impossible” to maintain control.

    2. fredwilson

      we need strong competition in the last mile of internet access, both wiredand wireless

      1. Dennis Buizert

        Sadly that last mile is a 60 mile marathon. So many regulations in place. This goes for national and international. So many copyright legislations, privacy requirements etc.Plus you have the music labels, that are well established, they want the entire pie instead of a a 1/12th.But, I, just like you are waiting for that company that manages to succeed with both! Ill be the first to sign up and pay for it. 🙂

      2. Dave W Baldwin

        It is a matter of convincing the ones needed that this is the new ‘cool’. I have your Curation issue solved, but it would help to have the ubiquitous internet Richard refers to… and since this is the United States, you’d think we should lead the way.



  6. ErikSchwartz

    I’m bearish on streaming services AND lockers. Bandwidth is expensive and scarce, local storage is plentiful and cheap. I can buy enough storage to hold more music than you could listen to in your lifetime for $100. Storage has been growing by an order of magnitude every few years since about 1980.The logical conclusion of CDNs and edge servers (which is functionally what all these cloud music services are based on) is massive local storage that is trickle updated.I’m not doing this for a business, but it’s my second choice.

    1. fredwilson

      you are simply arguing for a different architecture. cache locally the stuffyou listen to all the time and stream what you don’t. rdio already does thison mobile.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Yes. At an existential level the whole “Huge Bucket” concept is the next generation of smarter CDN.

      2. ErikSchwartz

        At the end of the day I think all this needs to be entirely transparent to the end user. They want to listen to what they want to listen to and as long as the music starts when they press play they do not care if it’s stored locally, stored remotely and streamed, or streamed from a shared pool of music.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          You are right. It kinda goes with the whole Curation debate where everyone keeps trying to do things via one edge or another. The word you like, Synchronize, is where it needs to be.It does come down to improving the download (signal) with a true curator that is an extension of the User, hence understands what the User wants. This becomes expanded where the User will get a referral from someone else, starting with friends/family expanding to bigger groups.Place a sub on that and you will have the money to feed the band/label something per feed/listen.

  7. Austin Bryan

    “I like owning the digital bits” is the new “I like owning the physical discs.”We’ll all end up in the same place; some people are just more comfortable taking the bridge than fording the river.

  8. paramendra

    Keep it real. Keep it short.

  9. Havoc

    A problem with streaming services is the stuff they don’t have. I have a lot of music – none of it custom mixes, but just a lot of old CDs that were ripped. When I signed up for rdio, it scanned my iTunes library and found most of it, but some number of things it didn’t have for whatever reason – too old, too obscure, rights holder obstinacy, I don’t know. It’s tough to say “oh, I can live without ever hearing any of those albums ever again.” I’d like to still hear them. I’d even pay to have them on the streaming service, but I can’t.In the TV/movies world, it’s far far worse, with the trend apparently going in the wrong direction (content owners pulling out of Hulu and Netflix streaming and setting up their own sites). Here also I’d pay, but can’t. I worry about music services getting worse rather than better at least in the near term.Of course we all want to be able to get any song at any time, on-demand, and there’s no technical obstacle. But there may never be a reason rights holders have to give in and allow it. They might fight it for an unknowable number of years.

  10. reece

    I haven’t loaded a single track to my ipad – it’s just Pandora or similar, all the time.I DO and will continue to keep files on my phone until there’s connectivity in the subway, but I’m leaning more and more toward streaming services.I’m really liking what has done through the browser so far… it’d be awesome if I could listen to that stuff on my mobile.

    1. kirklove

      Reece, V3 in the browser is going to be even better and far less reliant on the extension (for a number of reasons). iPhone and Android coming shortly and it’s pretty slick.

      1. John Milner

        As someone who is just getting into, this is awesome news!The larger overarching problem for me is the offline access, but that’s not a issue, that’s a streaming vs. local one.

      2. ShanaC

        will I be able to tag? The order of the stuff I get is wierd

        1. kirklove

          Hey Shanna. Not exactly following your question. You can create a profile page and when you Note a song it will appear there (mine is for example). We don’t support playlists or reordering, for a few reasons. I can explain more offline if you like.

          1. ShanaC

            I’m thinking like bloglists, or tagging types of sounds (eg, music, orpodcast-sports)I would love to hear more offline

          2. kirklove

            That’s definitely something we want to add. I agree 100%. Feel free to reach me at kirk at ex dot fm

  11. riemannzeta

    Why lockers instead of subscriptions? Easy. People like the feeling of ownership. And as Harold Demsetz notes, “the problem of defining ownership is precisely that of creating properly scaled legal barriers to entry.”…The vision of interconnected streams of content (consciousness?) is a beautiful one to imagine. Whether we are individually (much less collectively) capable of trading the sense of power and autonomy we have from ownership for the benefits of the hive mind — that is a closer question.The political history of the 20th Century is not encouraging…

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      The vision of interconnected streams really comes down to it actually being interconnected streams of content. What any of the readers/writers on the blogs today are proposing is not that by a long shot.It is a matter of tech and when you have true interconnection in true real time where the User will be happy listening to what they want, when the want… ownership simply comes to sending your cache to the PC or your own cloud.

  12. George Howard

    Totally agree, Fred.wrote this prior to the amzn announcement:…and this today:…main point of both:”In an era of constant connectivity, and with multiple services providing access to pretty much every piece of recorded music that a customer could want, why is there a need to “own” your music at all; let alone upload it from your hard drive to the “cloud.”If, for instance, you have Steely Dan on your hard drive, and you want to listen to Steely Dan on your device or on someone else’s computer, there are myriad ways you can do that—Rdio, Rhapsody, Spotify, eMusic, Napster, etc.—for a monthly fee that will likely be lower than the monthly fee associated with uploading any decent sized library of music to Amazon’s cloud (Amazon gives you 5GB for free, but if you have a music library of 100GB it’ll cost you $100/year to store it on Amazon’s servers).If you’re like 99% of the population and you just want to hear some music while you’re eating, cooking, reading, working, etc., you’ll dial up Pandora on your computer or phone and let them curate the experience for you…for free.If Amazon had made this service free (and perhaps they’ll do so for Prime subscribers), and added in some curation elements (which, they’re…ahem…sort of known for) there might be a value proposition here.Absent these things, and in an era where streaming music is rapidly replacing the idea of owning music there just doesn’t seem to be much point.”best,George

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Hell George, I wrote my reply to Michael and then read yours… on the money!

    2. fredwilson

      great points

  13. Mark Burstiner

    Yep, @rick is correct. I’ll keep my subscription to Rdio, but it’ll never have all the stuff I have locally. I’d say only about 70% of what I have locally is available on Rdio. I don’t want to have to wait for them to work out the relationships with labels overseas, so I’d have to live without artists like Example, Professor Green, etc…I’m uploading to Amazon now. This is why Lala was so awesome. I can have all *my* music with me wherever I go. I’ll use Amazon (or Google Music when it comes out) as my primary, but when I hear something new, I can use Rdio to add it to my collection and listen to it instantly. Then, I can decide if I want to download it or not.If Rdio (or another) did what Lala did, & allowed me to upload what they couldn’t match to their offerings, I’d drop everything else & happily pay double what I’m paying now/month.

  14. evanjacobs

    Cloud Drive and Cloud Player are wedges that Amazon is driving between customers and iTunes.

  15. daryn

    Call me a luddite, but while I predominately use streaming services (rhapsody and spotify) I like having my personal collection of owned music that I can take offline, and not lose if I cancel a recurring subscription or the streaming provider stops serving that particular content for any number of reasons.I buy 90+ percent of the music I buy via Amazon MP3, so I welcome the CloudDrive. I’ll continue to archive my own copies, but this will be a convenient way to not have to carry around everything on my mobile device.

    1. Dan Epstein

      I’m not sure how it works from a technical perspective, but Rdio offers a “sync to mobile” feature on its iPhone app, that let’s you play anything you’ve synced to mobile, whether you’ve got a network connection or not, so your access to your “collection” isn’t limited to your being online. That said, you are still dependent on Rdio maintaining relationships with rights owners, and on Rdio staying in business.

      1. kirklove

        The sync to mobile feature is great. I use it for the ride home on the subway. But, you’re right in that it requiers Rdio maintain (i.e. pay) for those rights.

    2. kirklove

      Luddite 😉

    3. Doug Kersten

      You’re getting old.;) The young ones won’t own music or personal collections. They will have favorites/likes/bookmarks. They will own their lists.

      1. Ciaran

        And you’re making sweeping genralisations about “the yoof” (sic) based on nothing other than how old they are – a sure sign of old age 😉

    4. whitneymcn

      I accept that I’m rapidly becoming an anachronism, but I rarely use streaming services (unless we consider ExFM, bandcamp, etc. streaming services). Though considering the lengths that I go to in order to make my music accessible across devices and locations, I guess I’m really a closet streaming user. :)And I’m with you on welcoming CloudDrive — just a few days ago I started trying to figure out how to make dropbox neatly do exactly what Amazon now does (as far as cloud/device synching), so I’m definitely going to give it a good test run.

      1. fredwilson is most certainly a streaming service

        1. whitneymcn

          Yeah, but where it gets muddy (and interesting) for me is that it’s adifferent model for a streaming service.It’s a library of music, yes, but rather than starting from “we’ve built alibrary big and comprehensive enough that we probably have what interestsyou,” exfm starts from “you’re constantly building your own library of whatinterests you, and we’ll help make that more organized and accessible.”You end up overlapping eventually, but I think the starting point matters:no surprise to anyone, I’m sure, but I think exfm gets a meaningful benefitfrom their foundation.

          1. fredwilson

            yup, that’s why i use at least a dozen streaming services almost every day. different starting points yield different experiences

  16. michaelruby


  17. andrewwatson

    What to do the artists think about this though? What’s the impact to their bottom line? Is there a solution that works for them too?

    1. fredwilson

      most artists have no bottom linethe record labels are the ones with the money in the music businessand they don’t love the move from files to streaming

  18. Aaron Klein

    Because nobody can take away what I own. I don’t want a fight between labels and streaming services to cut off my access (even temporarily) to music I love.

    1. kidmercury

      yeah, there is a bit of the man holding you down with streaming services vs owned storage. sort of like going off the grid for energy, which is a dream of mine. but while i normally celebrate paranoia i’m not concerned about losing my music collection, so i personally am willing to opt for streaming services.

      1. Aaron Klein

        Well, my point is just that you don’t have a music collection if you only use a streaming service. You might have bookmarks to some music, but you’re just renting it.To me, it’s less about paranoia. I own an awesome Dean Martin record. It’s mine.Subscription services are way cool for discovering music and there’s a lot of music that I don’t really care about owning. So I actually don’t disagree that much with Fred’s post.But I do love being able to own music if I want to.

        1. kidmercury

          Right, but it seems like your main cocnern is a desire forindependence… what happens when the power gets shut off, when yoursmartphone provider remotely disables your music playing app…..when areyou truly free from The Man?????? And when does freedom from The Man becomeits own prison……

          1. Aaron Klein

            You would probably enjoy the post “User Freedom” that I wrote a few weeks ago:…If I own the rights to a MP3 file, that’s a lifetime license that I bought and no one can legally take that away from me. I could sue the label if they tried to illegally terminate that right.I can go load it on a 1999 Creative MP3 player (along with 29 other songs) and it will play.I have no such rights if Apple launches a subscription streaming service and then falls out of love with the Beatles’ record label.

          2. kidmercury

            just read your user freedom post, yes, i totally agree, and see that as theissue here as well….if you bought an mp3 from whoever, and they don’t letyou transfer it outside of their software…..or if htey retain teh right todisable the technology you need to utilize the mp3 (as smartphones canremotely disable apps and even teh kindle has remotely deleted books) do youreally own it? or who really owns your digital goods: you or yourelectricity provider? i think we are in an era where the concept ofownership is being redefined….perhaps different platforms will havedifferent ideas of what ownership means. for instance in apple’s platformownership means $teve owns it, you pay for it 🙂

          3. Aaron Klein

            Capability to disrupt and ownership are too different things. I own half an acre of land on which my house is located. My neighbor can disrupt my right to the land but I can sue them if they try. (Thankfully I have great neighbors and they don’t!)I understand what you’re saying with this but our legal system still counts for something and I have rights to the things I buy. I don’t have the right to rent them forever if the owner doesn’t want to rent them anymore.

          4. kidmercury

            “our legal system still counts for something” — ah ha, i found it! thepoint where we disagree 🙂

          5. Aaron Klein


    2. fredwilson

      that’s one reason to have several (as i do) but i agree that is not a normal or appropriate strategy

  19. davidu

    Fred — What do you think about movie rentals that are only good for $x days or $y plays?

    1. fredwilson

      not a huge fan but my kids do that all the time

  20. Ryan McIntyre

    Fred, I’m a big fan of Rhapsody and Pandora and have been a paying subscriber of both for years. But I also have a large (over a terabyte) local collection in my house. That collection will have to stay local for now, because I’m not going to pay $1k/year to Amazon to host content I already own!

    1. fredwilson

      we are identical in our setups

  21. Mark Williamson

    Full disclosure… I used to work on Rhapsody a long time ago and before I chime in with my 2cents on “Locker Services” I want to share some of what I found back then:Consumer segmentation in the music space at the time (2004 / 2005) was simple. If you had more time than money you stole music and if you had more money than time you would buy music. Now if you fell into the “buyer” group, then the question was would you simply purchase tracks / albums or would you subscribe to a service. Here another simple factor was the driving force for consumers… were their musical tastes “set”. There are a lot of people who form their musical tastes early in their life and never expand out… they are going to listen to the bands they already love over and over again and therefore their musical tastes were “set”. Those with “set” musical tastes would buy tracks / albums primarily from the artists / albums they already loved… while those who loved to explore new music were prime candidates for a subscription service.The problem with the subscription music business is that there are simply not enough people with more money than time that love exploring new music. The vast majority of young people have more time than money and therefore were stealing music back then and the majority of people who had more money than time had set music tastes… so it was incredibly hard to get services like Rhapsody to scale.This analysis also shows why a service like Pandora is so successful… it does a great job of servicing almost all of these consumer segments with their free radio product that can be tuned to EITHER a “set” music mindset or an “explorer” music mindset.Ok… now onto “Locker Services”. I think Locker Services in the context of music need to be constructed to service the needs of one of the segments I mentioned above. Right now they clearly do nothing for someone who has more money than time and has an “explorer” minset around music (this is you Fred). Additionally, they do little for those that have more money than time but have a set music mindset b/c these people can afford the largest storage capacities on all their devices and probably already solved this problem.Therefore a “Locker” service should focus on creating great services for those with less money than time. For example, one thing a Locker service could do is create KILLER “Radio” stations that don’t have to follow restrictions on play frequency and other rights restrictions b/c they are simply playing back YOUR music. So imagine “Amazon Radio” with no commercials and a better radio experience than Pandora… this is only possible with a “locker” experience due to rights issues.

    1. Deckarudo

      I think that as soon as you stream something, the music industry will want its share. I mean you can’t upload and stream your own music without paying the majors and artists. There will be no “free music” according to the music industry. Even if it’s your own files and they are already paid.Therefore, streaming websites such as Spotify or Rdio and music locker’s subscription prices will be very close.

    2. fredwilson

      mark – this is the best comment about digital music i have ever read. and i’ve read a ton on the topic.i use to create the “killer radio station” that is “simply playing back my music”it’s called “my library radio” on and it is my default stream when i don’t know what i want to listen to

      1. Mark Williamson

        Thanks Fred. When asked about the music business by my entrepreneurial friends I walk through the segmentation I outlined above and combine it with my belief that the best way to build a big business in music is not to make money off the music, rather build an experience around the music that you can monetize. If you try and monetize the music you are at the mercy of the labels or Congress (like Pandora was)… and that isn’t a place you want to be.I think too many people are enamored with building a music business rather than building businesses “around” music. A brilliant example of building a business “around” music was MySpace… whose roots in music were really important to their growth as a broader social network.

        1. fredwilson

          totally agree markthat is why we have not invested in any music centric services other than soundcloud which is really an “audio centric service” and does not operate at the mercy of labels

          1. Jim

            fred, you do operate at the mercy of artists and labels with soundcloud. actually… more than you think.if content is up on soundcloud that the artist doesn’t want there, you are liable if you don’t remove it.

          2. fredwilson

            they have audio fingerprinting to automatically detect music that shouldn’tbe postedit is removed right away

    3. jefftala

      Really interesting comment Mark. I ended up blogging a reaction to it (shameless plug: http://www.jeffreytalajic.c… ) but I’ll summarize my main point here.I think those with more money than time and set musical tastes would also like to have a musical locker. As you point out, they can certainly afford “the largest storage capacities on all their devices” — but somehow I don’t think they’re taking the time to sync all their music manually. That’s a big pain in the ass. Upload your favourite tunes to a music locker once, and voila, you have that music on all your future devices (via streaming) forever. Isn’t that a better use case?

      1. Mark Williamson

        Jeff – the syncing issue is one that cloud services should be able to easily solve. The problem with *focusing* on this market is that many people in that segment (more money than time and fixed music tastes) have already migrated their collections to a digital format and found a “solution” to this problem and are unlikely out in the market looking for a solution to this problem. This isn’t to say there isn’t a opportunity to solve this problem, I just think the other market opportunity is *MUCH* larger.

    4. Brian Crews

      fantastic discussion / great points. I can’t help but feel like the “locker” service for digital music is the online equivalent of a survival bunker – at least for the person who is short on time. Why eat the canned goods in the shelter when you can stream a variety palatable tastes and textures dialed-in to your own particular taste?BTW – the delineation between users who have more money than time or time than money is right on. Thanks for your insights.

      1. Mark Williamson

        Brian – the Time Vs. Money is a really powerful segmentation that can be applied across LOTS of businesses, but especially content businesses.For example, one of the reasons that I think the movie business has had a different experience than the music business with respect to piracy is that the the amount of TIME it takes to pirate movies is way higher than the amount of time it used to take to pirate music. Back when Napster was running it was so simple to pirate content that the Time vs. Money equation skewed toward piracy for more consumers.Movies are such large files and the software used to pirate (e.g. – BitTorrent) are so hard to configure (how many normal people are going to do port forwarding on their routers) that the equation skews heavily toward legal content acquisition. When you combine this with free services like Hulu and very low cost services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, you can see why this market played out in a very different way.

  22. Ben Peisch

    Thanks Fred – I like Rhapsody as well. But, as a fan of music, don’t you like paying the artists you support? Part of the fun is buying your favorite band’s record the day it comes out, no?

    1. sbmiller5

      Streaming is a way for artists to get a % of revenue generated from the stream, in-place of torrenting. I’m starting to feel a bit spammy with all my comments, but a great example at Grooveshark, we ran a survey of our listeners and 70% of users said they pirate music less than they used to, with 46% giving up on pirating completely.

    2. fredwilson

      i still do that. it is the main reason i buy files.what i’d really love to see is the artists do kickstarter projects for each and every record they make, dump the labels, and then i can pay them before they make the music



        1. fredwilson

          that’s what my partner albert says. when content becomes digital the best way to get paid for it is before you make it

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  23. Seth Weintraub

    Agree, but licensing is the issue, at least in the US.Same reason you have to buy more expensive DVDs from Netflix (which are also easier to copy) rather than just streaming them. Makes no sense.

  24. moc

    Ultimately, we are listening to music and not files, so the less I know about “storage” the better. All I care is my accessibility to the music I want, so streaming is clearly the more convenient option.However, when you deal with copyrighted content like music, there seems to be a lot of legal complications, so maybe we are still years away from having all music accessible through a streaming service (can we access any music from any artist through the streaming services?). Because of that, there’s probably still great demand for a cloud locker service like Amazon.Clearly Amazon is trying to do something bigger here. A personal cloud for everything? A stepping stone to streaming music/movies through Amazon services?

    1. Hemantc

      That’s what I would predict as well. I’m interested in seeing how Apple utilizes their acquisition of and that server farm in North Carolina. Rumor has it that they will be moving iTunes into the cloud. Google Music will likely be more similar to Amazon’s interpretation though.

  25. kirklove

    I like owning stuff, but I’m moving more and more toward streaming. I’m really loving Rdio as well. It’s super well done. Though Rdio is mired in the same legal licensing minefield as all the other streaming services.The one huge advantage to streaming is discovery. You can try a lot of stuff on for size without having to “buy” all the tracks. That’s great. Of course I’m biased, but I think we do a pretty good job of music discovery at exfm. The social layer for trusted curation from friends is great, too. Nothing better than streaming someone else’s Noted songs and finding a nugget.

    1. sbmiller5

      Kirk, i’d love to hear your thoughts (on or offline) on Grooveshark, any feedback?

      1. kirklove

        Looked at it a while back, but never used it so I can’t really comment on it. I know it’s quite popular though.

    2. fredwilson

      i love your new tagline on your disqus profile!

  26. Dmitri Mariassov

    Thinking about my situation – often on the road in Europe, I’d say that lockers are unusable – roaming charges kill this idea.

  27. Zachary Reiss-Davis

    Dismissing the idea of “ownership” of music is a mistake, as is dismissing the idea for other media, such as books and movies. Earlier in the thread, Fred remarked that he’s been paying for a subscription for years, and just things of it as another utility bill, but he (and most commentators in this thread) are in a very high economic bracket, relative to the average, and people who can’t just do that are consumers too. Additionally, some percentage (including myself) of people who COULD afford to pay another monthly bill will not want to out of principles around ownership, or just frugality.My conclusion: Both are going to have a place in the future.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I suspect there are other elements at work here, beyond cost. Fred seems to have a different, less-permanent, attitude toward ownership in general. As a VC, he tends to own companies for a certain stage in their lives; some of his readers probably have owned shares of the same company or mutual fund for many years. As a former Army brat, Fred’s used to moving every few years, and continues to do so today; in contrast, most readers here might spend a decade or more in the same house.Another difference is that, unlike Fred, most people are more attached to the sort of music they grew up listening to, and less open to new music. Tim Knight, for example, recently blogged that his “musical knowledge stopped building around 1991”. Tim’s younger than Fred, and similarly tech-savvy, but he has a more typical attachment to the music of his youth. Fred and Tim probably represent two poles here, with most people on a spectrum in between, but closer to Tim’s side of the spectrum.

      1. andyswan

        Some Johnny Cash, some Beastie Boys, some Nirvana and some Willie Nelson will get me through at least a year of driving.I’ve bought Snoop’s first album and Sgt Pepper Lonely Hearts club band about 6x each. I don’t really mind.I guess I’m pretty much “done” with expanding my music portfolio, so I’m fine with a locker. I may add something here and there, but even that will be through at least a decade of testing.p.s. I didn’t know Fred ever paid subscriptions for content until today.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          I’ve gotten multiple copies of favorites too (had Physical Graffiti on vinyl, tape, and CD at various points, but I think I’ve lost them all).Getting force-fed jazz & rap in high school turned me off to both genres, but I did like Ben Folds’s take on this Snoop/Dre tune:

        2. fredwilson

          i find that hard to believe andy. i’ve written about paying subscriptions to rhapsody and netflix and other content services many times here on avc

          1. andyswan

            Ya apparently I have selective memory….plus I usually don’t get into themusic posts much.

    2. Robert Holtz

      Actually, with that, you raise an interesting point.If someone is “frugal” or dare we say “not rich” as you point out… (and sometimes we forget to consider that vantage point or that kind of user admittedly)… then what happens when you become delinquent on your locker’s service fees? Do you lose the content you quote-unquote “own”? Do they give it back to you? Is it repossessed and auctioned off like a physical rented storage facility would in such a case? Or is your whole music collection just vaporized into oblivion before your eyes? All the music you love swept away by some unfeeling indiscriminate software cron-job just passing by to tidy up your transient little sliver of the cloud. What an image that conjures. And it raises some new questions.Thanks for bringing up that angle, @Zachary. Truthfully, I had not considered it. Wow. Yet another shining example of why it sucks to be poor. I guess that’s the answer to who buys all our old CDs and vinyl when the rest of society is on the beach like Fred catching our tunes from the edge of our broadband Wi-Fi signals.So, to your conclusion: Both WILL have a place in the future, yes. But “ownership” in the sense we’ve all known it heretofore is dead forever, even if cloud lockers are prevalent.

  28. jdelvat

    Services like Rhapsody, Spotify, Pandora and the likes contain 90% of American music.I have tons of French music CDs that I bought and converted to MP3s on a hard drive, but it’s currently a pain to listen to them accross the house, not even mentioning on a trip.So, maybe Amazon has something for me there.

  29. RichardF

    I just see the Amazon service as a locker that backs up my collection.I use LastFM and Spotify a lot but until the day when there is a ubiquitous internet connection throughout the world at an affordable rate (which let’s be honest is decades away) I’ll stick with physical ownership. Streaming just isn’t practical when you are lying on a lounger by the beach in some far flung part of the world or even just driving in Mid Wales.

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Maybe that is the real revolution, the world standing in the streets yelling for that ubiquitous internet connection.

      1. ShanaC

        Not completely sure that will happen – sometimes I want the internet off

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          If it is all around you, you can still turn it off ;D

    2. andyidsinga

      i know – it would be cool if there was some sort of wireless network where we could subscribe and recieve 100s if not 1000s of channels of all sorts of music. We would need a small device, and it should be power efficient and work almost anywhere. It would probably be ok if it worked only in recieve mode.That would be totally sweet ..we could even have them in our cars and on the beach. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      1. RichardF

        as long as it’s not interrupted by adverts and mindless chatter of Disk Jockey’s and caters exactly for my music tastes andy, that would be cool 🙂

        1. andyidsinga

          Oh – glad you replied :)As I was reflecting on my snarky comment – I was thinking about just how that might be accomplished.We could build a programmable & configurable satellite radio that is connected with a corresponding web based streaming service. The radio receiver can just switch channels automatically based on your streaming service setup to get your content without ads and undesired blather – sorry Howard ;). Since probably a ton of our fav music is being transmitted via satellite already the receiver just has to be able to tune in at the right time to cache the songs ….I dunno – some’n like that 🙂

    3. fredwilson

      guess what? i am lying on a lounger on a beach in some far flung part of the world right now and i’m listening to rdio on my android

      1. RichardF

        lol…hope you’ve got a cheap roaming plan and a solar powered battery charger connected to it, otherwise your battery will be flat in a couple of hours and it will have cost you $100 to listen to ‘Original Pirate Material’ (if it’s even available on rdio)

        1. fredwilson

          the wifi in the house we rented reaches out to the beach

          1. RichardF


  30. Jonah Model

    While designing interfaces for several music startups, it’s been my experience that a lot of people enjoy the process of curating a limited set of favorite works.Music lockers can offer portable, predictable access to a lifetime of favorite songs, without forcing us to start from scratch. That said, I think we have a long way to merge the experience of managing a local library with the on-the-go solutions that the cloud can afford.

    1. fredwilson

      you can curate in a streaming service and also make those curations available to others who use the service. that’s even better than curating for just yourself

  31. static

    A huge portion of what I listen to isn’t available to buy, much less stream from Rhapsody. More than anything else, I hate mixing services to find what I want. I suppose having 200GB of music already in file form is also a huge challenge.

    1. sbmiller5

      Matt, have you checked out Grooveshark – do we offer what you’re looking for? We have a library of 13M songs, if not, let me know where we can improve.

  32. Sean Weinstock

    Absolutely agreed with your p.o.v. First thing I thought of when reading about this product.Also, check out Grooveshark for a Spotify-like product available in the US. Sometimes a little slow, but awesome in the sense that I’ve always found what I was looking for.

    1. sbmiller5

      Sean, great to hear you’ve enjoyed Grooveshark. If anybody would like to try out Grooveshark, we offer a completely free web app.If you’re interested in testing out our subscription streaming service, check out the following link. It will give you 80% off “Grooveshark Anywhere” (no ads, desktop client, mobile app for Android, Blackberry or jailbroken iPhone, higher streaming rate) for a year AND all the proceeds go to the Japan Tsunami relief efforts. That’s $20 donated to Japan and free Grooveshark (normally $108)http://listen.grooveshark.c…Disclosure: I work for Grooveshark.

      1. Sean Weinstock… argument/graph to substantiate the Grooveshark recommendationI don’t work for Grooveshark, just FYI

        1. sbmiller5

          Thanks Sean. A couple updates to ours: We now charge $9/Mo for subscription service and unfortunately, only are available on Jailbroken iPhones.We were pulled from Apple’s app store after 5 days.

          1. gorbachev

            “We were pulled from Apple’s app store after 5 days.”I like the fact that you guys had the balls to try and get your app there.Did you, by any chance, have an office pool going on for how long until Apple decides to pull it? 🙂

        2. Mat Mullen

          I use Grooveshark daily on my daily commute to and from work on my iPhone and love it. The iPhone app design is incredible and works really well with 3G. Sharing playlists with friends and family is easy and intuitive.The best mix I’ve found is head over to in the morning and check out what’s trending under their popular tab then listen throughout the day. As I find songs I like and want to save to a playlist I add them to Grooveshark. Really can’t beat their UI and ease of use.

          1. sbmiller5

            Thanks for the feedback, Matt. I feel the same way about Disqus.

  33. monsur

    I was a Rhapsody subscriber since it was, and now I’m on Rdio and *love* it. At the time, I quit Rhapsody because of device availability. I was running Win64 at work, Linux at home, and Windows Media Server as a HTPC, non of which supported the Rhapsody desktop client. Fast-forward to now, where Rdio is browser-based, which opens it up to a variety of systems, and it rounds out its offering with iOS and Android Apps (which allow us to play Rdio in the car or while commuting). That means the four places I listen to music the most (work, home, commute and car) are all covered by Rdio.The key for these subscription services is ubiquity of service. Pair the Rdio app with a good pair of portable bluetooth speakers, and you get close to having your music anywhere. And we are starting to see a landgrab for ubiquity. For example, Mog recently announced that they want to build car players, while Spotify is coming to Onkyo receivers. Rdio also released a very feature rich API, which encourages developers to build on top of the platform and offer streaming services in locations and forms we can only imagine.That said, I would love to see an upload component as a complement to the streaming service. Rdio has done an awesome job of improving its selection with the recent deal with Merlin; I can find most indie releases on Rdio. But the internet is ushering a whole slew of self-released material (including mixtapes) and non-label material (podcasts). I’d love to be able to upload content not on Rdio and take advantage or Rdio’s mobile distribution platform so that the uploaded content is available anywhere Rdio is. That would be true ubiquity of service AND content.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m using both but may be headed in your direction

  34. obscurelyfamous

    I’ve been using rdio for a couple months now. I’ve been late on it but everyone else at the office has been loving it.Now after using rdio I don’t know why I would want to own music. I’m sure there are valid reasons out there but I don’t care about any of them yet. Very interested in trying Spotify when it comes here.For the same reasons, I haven’t bought a DVD in a long time and I’ve never own a Bluray player.

    1. David Semeria

      OT Daniel, but have you ever considered automatically converting all caps posts to lower case (and as an added bonus perhaps also halving the font size as punishment)?It’s 5 lines of javascript. I’ll write it myself if we can sneak it on to AVC

      1. kidmercury

        i second david’s idea here.

        1. RichardF


          1. kidmercury

            lol oh no not you too richard! 🙂 i honestly looked for a google chromeextension that would convert caps to lower case. i couldn’t find one — ifanyone knows of one please help a caps-sensitive person like myself out!

          2. falicon

            I hacked this together for you ->…though, I’m not personally annoyed by the caps (so I probably won’t use this extension myself).Anyway – enjoy 😉

          3. David Semeria


          4. RichardF


          5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          6. Dave W Baldwin

            Your gaining off hand attacks from randoms shows knowledge re Art/Warfare.

          7. kidmercury

            looks like it did have an effect on you, as your comments have now been downcased via the newly created chrome extension. BOOYAH!

          8. Dave W Baldwin

            Your use of term ubiquitious and defense of grim shows you see bigger picture…

        2. fredwilson

          i am exercising a presidential veto on this one.

          1. kidmercury

            well, a google chrome extension has been created….will you up the stakes by making all .fredland properties accessible only via fredfox and frednet? only time will tell how far your authoritarian regime will go…….

          2. fredwilson

            you can hack my authoritarian regime. i accept that.

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. falicon

        Since a few of you asked for it…I just hacked together a quick Chrome extension that will let you downcase all disqus comments (install the extension, then just hover over the disqus section of a website and all the actual text in the thread will get downcased)…You can grab the extension here ->…If you have troubles with it let me know…it was a SUPER quick hack, so not very elegant…but should do the trick if you really want to downcase everything.

        1. David Semeria

          Thanks Kevin, I’ll give it a spin and let you know.

        2. kidmercury

          outstanding! i have it installed and it’s working! man this is great. thanks so much! i can now read grimlock’s comments in peace!

          1. falicon

            function over form…it helps every once in awhile 😉

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      It is cool realizing that just wanting to listen to something w/o worrying if you own it. That is the true game changer looking forward and will bring in a new era of creativity.

    3. ShanaC

      I tried rdio, and had a mental meltdown. I had forgotten over the years what I like and what I dislike, and I found the choice overwhelming. I really want a combo service of what I have, plus what I stream, plus recommended. And I haven’t found that

    4. Tyler Hayes

      Having tried Spotify while in Europe a couple months ago, I strangely felt put off by the UI. It felt messy compared to Rdio. Not a jab at Spotify, but a UI/UX which has grown cluttered since its creation will be something I’m sure they’ll address going forward as they enter new regions.Access > ownership for many things, and the Internet has enabled us to build tools that apply this logic in almost every category now. Funny enough, it seems like access and ownership are growing more synonymous every day as we change the rules and re-define the words themselves.

    5. fredwilson

      spotify’s UI is pretty great. at least it was when i was using it a few years ago.

  35. Dmskinner

    How about sound quality? I digitized my music on whatever iTunes was using… I think 128 BPS — and at least in my head it sounds better than streamed…. anyone know streamed sound equality?

  36. Harry DeMott

    The problem with the Amazon service – as well as Rhapsody and other services is that there are just too many people with their hands out getting between you and your music.Reading through the comment stack here – you realize that it is not only the labels that inhibit the growth of music services – but you also have issues with the wireless providers, the fixed line broadband providers, the cloud services guys (depending on just how much music you want to store etc…).To me the ultimate service is an amalgam of Pandora for kick back listening and discovery, coupled with Rhapsody for deeper exploration (either of a known band – I recently went back and listened to all of Pink Floyd – or a new band you have been exposed to) and an iTunes like service that you can upload your concerts, remixes etc… to.Right now Pandora is great if you want to kick back and listen and Rhapsody is great if you already know what you want to listen to – and iTunes gives you the freedom (iTunes may actually not be the best example – but any basic music library player)So where’s the device that allows you to do all of this at once?I would argue that it is Sonos and it’s software – which is a great solution to the problem – but it is difficult enough – and an expensive product for the masses. What we need is a cloud based Sonos product – adding the services we like to a basic architecture. Essentially taking the existing Sonos app – and adding a streaming layer so that you can access all of your own stuff on top of the streamed stuff.Add in a some sort of caching on mobile (perhaps this is an extra fee feature) and you are in pretty good shape.

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      The Art of Warfare. Let’s say we do have the tools, new tech on the cusp, the combining of these elements within 2-3 years… I’d say it is worth going after from the standpoint of listening to what you want, when you want and not have to own it.The subscription wouldn’t have to be that big because people just want to listen to what they want (ask for it) and/or check out some of the more popular things in a variety of groups of people.Take care of the bands and show the bands how to forge a new rev system and you can establish a new era.There is an answer to your ‘off the top’, “That’s nice Dave, but that is not how the system works….”

      1. Joshblandy

        Aren’t we just talking about a ‘Content Shifting’ platform that spans both the internet and your home/private network. Users can shift content (music, video, pdfs, ebooks, etc) they own between multiple devices and locations. Also users and the plaform can shift content (i.e. recommend / share links) to others for discovery purposes whilst respecting copyright owners.I recall a post by Fred (or at least a comments thread) some weeks back to this extent but can’t put my finger on the day…

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          In a sense. You need to have the ubiquitious signal feed per Richard so streaming is not such an issue and from my side the ‘little helpers’ that can cross channel what is happening among Users at any given moment. Since the ‘little helpers’ are extensions of the Users, different tastes from the vanilla to the edge would be part of the fluid result.From the AI standpoint, it is simply a matter of delivering Intelligence (which we have).Re Art/War, let the oversized sloths rule the roost, making things so difficult. Bring about what I talk about off and on that changes the game board, not focusing strictly on music and you deliver the receiving power to the listeners. On the Developer/Corporate side, you have to push forward a way artists can have a piece, and that piece is determined by how good they are and/or promote.In the end, you gain participation plus the buzz, you gain more from the artist side which increases buzz from the listener side. Better yet, the sharing of knowledge/opine regarding everything else grows also, for the true Curation coming will be the power of the people.Though some readers view things in the Knows vs. Know Nots, they are wrong…and as they continue platforms set that way needing to stay in big populations to gain their million, the power of the bigger locale will prevail.

  37. Guillermo Ramos

    “It appears that you are attempting to use Amazon Cloud Player from outside the U.S. This service is intended for U.S. customers only.”WTF!Ok. We swap our Spotify for the Amazon Cloud PLayer + Netflix

    1. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

      Forget the nonsense around net neutrality. This is the real problem with the internet.I pay my TV license in the UK, which funds the BBC. So when I go abroad I expect to hook up to wifi and watch BBC iPlayer to keep in touch with my favorite shows and banter with my work colleagues about the latest goings-on…but alas, there are always restrictions.

      1. Guillermo Ramos

        Funny thing is that it allows to upload the music files but the player is locked.

    2. fredwilson

      oh man. that is so damn annoying

  38. Dan Epstein

    I think it’s going to be hard for lockers to compete with streaming services as the streaming services add locker-like functionality (such as Rdio’s sync to mobile local caching), and as the size of the streaming selection grows to match what’s available for purchase.On a related note, why have music offerings had such success making deals to offer huge catalogs and new releases (often near release dates), while Netflix has struggled to get new releases in its streaming catalog?

  39. Ben Christensen

    I miss Lala too. They had the content I wanted and the tiered pricing strategy was brilliant from a consumer’s perspective. Instead of using bittorrent to illegally download MP3 files, I willingly paid the $1 it cost to own a cloud version of an album (after, of course, confirming that it’s something I wanted by taking advantage of Lala’s single listen for free). One of the downsides of this approach is that I maintained two parallel libraries – one using itunes and MP3 files that I accessed at home and on my iphone and one in the cloud that I accessed primarily at work and occasionally at home (for music discovery). My two libraries were not integrated, but I generally downloaded mp3 files of everything that I found on Lala that I really liked. I’m an insatiable consumer of music, but I don’t like to clutter my iTunes with music that I know I’m not going to go back to in the future. A few thoughts on what sort of new music service will work best for me:-The social aspect of Lala, Imeem and Ping is very valuable. You get curation if you are connected with the right people and discovering new music that you really like is one of the true pleasures in life.-Minimal friction in owning the new songs (as MP3s or cloud-based equivalent) that I discover will significantly increase the amount of money I spend on any service. Ping falls short because I’m still not willing to pay 90 cents for a song or 10 dollars for an album. Maybe I’m selfish and undervaluing artists, but it still just doesn’t add up in a world where all new music is easily available for free. If Ping were combined with the option of buying cloud-only versions of songs in the iTunes library (similar pricing to Lala) then the platform would be far more usable. The downside of subscription services for me is that it’s a firehose of content. I like to work through music deliberately – one full album at a time – and find that most curation efforts currently utilized by the streaming services are skewed towards top 40 hits (the content that’s easiest to discover). -Scale of usership is critical. I get a lot of music from friends and I share a lot of music in return. Currently, all of my peers use dropbox to transfer MP3s because there isn’t one cloud-based music service that we’re all using.In summary – I’m holding out to see what Apple does in this space. They have the scale, I like their user interface, and they bought Lala. I just hope that they didn’t buy Lala purely as a defensive strategy to make a product that is truly disruptive disappear…

  40. ShanaC

    To pivot through ala netflix

  41. Jennipher Marie

    I thought the exact same thing when I read about this last night.As a music lover and wife of a musician, I use to think that I would never want to give up “owning” the music I paid for but then I tried Rdio and I’ve never looked back. It is liberating to be free of downloads, iTunes and moving files around.I do understand that not all music is represented in the subscription model and as someone who’s music collection is about 75% non-major label content, there is some stuff I miss out on. However, I just side load that small part of my collection to my phone.You nailed it with the music subscription being a utility bill these days. I recently just quit my job to found a start-up and had to cut back on expenses. My Rdio subscription (like my mobile phone and electric bill) was not even considered. I actually cut out the cable bill in favor of just using Netflix streaming.Subscription streaming is the future and this is just a bridge to get you there. Hopefully Amazons plan is to on-board these users to a subscription service in the future.

    1. fredwilson

      this is a very interesting comment on several would be make a great study to create a bunch of cohorts, sliced by at least age and economic situation and maybe a few othersand then ask them to cut their monthly bills by a third or a half and see what goes

      1. Jennipher Marie

        This would be interesting. I would love to do that to validate some assumptions I have around why people are migrating to subscription for music and movies/TVs through services like Rdio & Netflix while moving away from subscription models like cable or download to own models like iTunes.I see a lot of friends in my generation (both early adopters and early majority) making the leap from cable to Netflix, iTunes to Rdio. Is it because we want to save money? Or, we just want more value on what we spend our money on?Choosing to cut the cable made the most sense because the value I get out of that $60 a month is less than the value I get out of the $10 I pay for Netflix or Rdio. Much less in fact.

        1. fredwilson

          i think they want to unbundle the access (cable) from the contentit is a very logical and natural desirei have done it with almost everything in our home (voice, video, music, etc)

          1. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

            What else can this unbundling concept stretch to?I usually book holidays with all the separate elements under my control and mostly cheaper than when packaged by a travel company.It would be interesting to hear of any other attempts to ‘unbundle’ services that we all use.

          2. fredwilson

            we use airbnb and vrbo to unbundle our vacations

          3. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

            Do you think they have a robust enough business model to be still trading in 10 years time? Or is this just an interim measure exploiting the inconsistency in this specific system (the global distribution systems that control most travel inventory) while the operators improve or are disrupted by something far more 21st century (like digital napster did with digital music, moving the middle men out of the way)?Sorry for the rambling questions, but these are areas I like to pitch my business ideas into. Where there is a gap and the chance to innovate, while working WITH incumbents, is where I hope to be in the next few years. For example:Just Eat ( have a great idea to bring small take-out businesses more business through the web. However their efforts are based on traditional business-to-business sales for growth, rather than developing scalable technology. Marrying that model with a Groupon Now type of application (which plugs into their order system at prices and discounts pre-agreed with vendors) would blow away anyone else in the space. I would love to push the idea myself, but the infrastructure they have in place already make the threshold for entry prohibitively high.

          4. fredwilson

            airbnb is person to person, i think it is disruptive

  42. Doug Kersten

    It’s funny, the thing that convinced me you were correct in your view was when my family and I watched the whole Harry Potter series streamed from… I finally understood that buying DVDs didn’t make sense anymore. Especially when I looked at all of the DVDs I have just sitting on a shelf after I view them once. Pretty ironic.

    1. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

      If only Amazon came up with a DVD locker…

  43. Evan Hill-Ries

    Another consideration here is licensing. Michael Robertson (who’s fought this battle on few different fronts) points out that it makes a difference whether you have to get a separate set of streaming licenses for the content you want to play for your users vs. piggybacking on the user’s own implied license from having purchased the music. The law here is a bit unsettled and there’s certainly risks to the latter approach, but that road is clearly one of less resistance operationally. It also solves the problem around amateur/indie content in a way I don’t think SoundCloud can.

  44. Trevis Thirdgill

    yea me too spotify is the best music streaming service there is hands down. Music lockers… nobody needs that.

    1. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

      Try searching Spotify for all the songs in your physical/digital collection and see what percentage are there, and of those you find see whether they are a quality version or some live rip-off…

      1. fredwilson

        i hear everyone’s point on the libraries not being complete. but i have well over a terrabyte of files on a server in my home and it is very rare that we play those files. over the years, we’ve learned that rhapsody has 99% of what we want to listen to and so we search that library first and thus 99% of our plays are on rhapsody.i could move that terrabyte of music up to amazon but is it worth it for 1% of our listens? i don’t think so

        1. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

          My Mum keeps a number (read: a hell of a lot) of items in my attic. I however spring clean 5-6 times a year and go through the routine of asking if I can throw everything out. She responds with an answer that can be summarised by “what happens when…”Surely the point isn’t that you don’t use that 1% so often, but that the 1% is there when you really need it. It’s a convenience/comfort in the mind factor.I often choose a service provider that isn’t always the best, but provides me with the comfort of bending over backwards to make me FEEL like they are keeping me happy. I like those services, they don’t make excuses and when I am feeling whimsical I know I can count on them being there.

          1. fredwilson

            right. that is the reason that music server is still on our network and i still put files on it at times

  45. Tim Thomas

    You’re avoiding the hoarding and collecting instincts which run very deep. I think if anything the place to be will be a subscription service with access to everything that lets you build a “locker”. Essentially like a Netflix queue.

    1. fredwilson

      you can hoard and collect in a subscription service too. collections and playlists become your collecting points

    2. Wes Smith

      Good point, unfortunately the Netflix cue is shite in terms of UX, say vs iTunes or any other evolved music Mgmt database.

  46. edward_d

    These are two different markets / models serving different needs. A content locker is a necessary solution (as-is the subscription service). Amazon is not the obvious provider here. The recording industry and the MPAA do not want a locker service, therefore it must be a good idea. 🙂



    1. Wills Hapworth


  48. gorbachev

    I have a few hangups on streaming services.1. They don’t have my music. They only have commercial music. They don’t have the mashups, remixes and most importantly, *gasp*, FOREIGN music I listen to.2. I’m at the mercy of the service provider for my music collection. If they decide that Sony is now on their ****list…well, tough cookies, no Sony music for me from now on. Vice versa, if Sony decides the streaming service is on their ****list, again, no Sony music for me.3. I don’t own anything. Listen, there’re pros of actually holding that freakin’ CD in your hands. You can resell it, you can lend it, you can swap it…heavens, it could even be valuable at some point, if you get the artist to sign it.4. I need some sort of network connection to listen to streaming music. Yea, yea, we’re all connected 24/7 now. Whatever. I’m not. Hell if I will ever pay the freakin’ ridiculous data rates of AT&T. I’m not that much of an Internet addict…yet.The lockers bridge the gap of owning to streaming pretty nicely. I get the “listen everywhere” experience when I can/want it, and yet I still own my stuff.I just uploaded Dean Gray’s American Edit onto Amazon Cloud Player. Let’s see how aggressive the copyright cops at Amazon are.

  49. Matthew

    I prefer the locker because I don’t listen to enough music to justify 9.99 per month. I usually listen to podcasts on my commute and only occasionally switch to music when I’m in the mood. This is why I loved LaLa.

  50. goldwerger

    Netflix proved so beautifully the explosive consumer appetite to get unlimited content for a fixed price.There will be resistance. There will be too much concentration of power initially, as well as captive audiences that are too tempting to milk for Apple, Google, Amazon.But you can’t full everybody forever. And I’m convinced market forces will eventually pull all media, music inclusive, to this more sensible and user-friendly premium pricing format.Wireless services pricing were also quite different a decade ago. Competition is a beautiful thing.

    1. fredwilson

      but we need to keep the competition up in the wireless space. att/tmobile is a step in the wrong direction

      1. goldwerger

        I agree.The big difference in wireless is the genuine economies of scale (coverage, cost). The FTC should prevent that deal, because it will result in higher rates. And less incentive to innovate. Without regulation, economic forces will drive consolidation in wireless to the point of duopoly.Online distribution is fortunately cheap, relatively speaking (assuming costs of streaming will continue to rapidly go down, which they will). So online music should not be facing these issues.However, in the online music space there is one miss – the cost of music royalties, which is a real structural issue in a highly controlled market, which artificially creates necessity for economies of scale where none should exit.Apple, Google, and Amazon are powerful for both its massive captive audience, but also because it has enough scale to cut a profit, where many music startups are struggling to run profitably at small user base levels.If that were not the case, competition would be more rapid and business models that are less consumer friendly, such as lockers (I am in strong agreement with you on this point), would face fiercer and quicker competition.But I do believe the scale barriers are not as high in online music as they are in wireless. Any company that hits a $50-100m revenue threshold can become a powerful player, and in 2-3 years there will be several companies breaking that barriers. So competition will eventually force the online music space to the more sensible pricing formats.

        1. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

          In the UK we are about to auction radio spectrum for “4G” services, which I believe will all be utilising LTE. There has however been a concession for “3”, the smallest wireless operator in the UK, to allow them to compete. I find it a little odd that they are given a foot up for their lack of profitability, rather than spectrum ‘bought back’ from the leading operators to redistribute to mroe players in the market.The main reason we have for less competition is the licensing system and the restricted number of these licenses. With any oligopoly the where does the responsibility reside to open up the market?

          1. goldwerger

            I am not really familiar with the UK wireless market, but your concluding question is interesting in a wider context.While I’m a huge believe in the power of free markets and competition, I also believe that some markets will not develop in a healthy way without smart regulation, with an emphasis on smart.The role governments can play in setting fair rules of engagement is critical. You can see it in areas ranging from Net Neutrality to Music Royalties to Bandwidth auctioning. The trick for regulation is to avoid interfering, while enforcing rules that assure at the time change that obsolete legacy market structures and legislations are not dogmatically forced onto new landscapes (of content distribution, bandwidth ownership, or whatever the case may be).That is the common thread I see.

          2. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

            The role of government, in this instance, is trying to reverse the oligopoly that THEY have created. Their restriction of the licenses (coupled with the ludicrous amount of money they took in for 3G licenses) have put the profitability threshold out of reach for anyone by the 3/4 big players in the market.

  51. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

    I think there is scope to combine the two. I was so happy when I read the article about the Amazon ‘locker service’ because I live in the UK, have subscribed to Spotify and found it fun but nowhere close to ideal. I assume it is the same with Netflix. It runs well side-by-side with your Cable/Satellite subscription as it provides new flexibility, however does not have the breadth and quality of content as yet. Combine the two (Netflix/Cable, Spotfiy/your own digital collection) and you come up with a service with few gripes.I have found the same experience true with a number of ‘cloud’ services. Dropbox, for example, is great for keeping my core work files accessible from all my devices. If I want to really work on those files I am restricted to what I can do unless I am at a laptop/desktop computer. I would love to edit a PowerPoint on the way home and then pull it up on my screen when I get home, with minimal fuss and no need to keep pressing upload, or having to plug in a cable.Is the technology there yet to get the best of both worlds?

  52. NICCAI

    Agree with you, Fred. I love my Kindle locker, but for music, I just don’t feel it. It’s too little too late. I don’t think music consumption in 2011 is the same as book consumption, and I think streaming is key to music discovery.I also think the consumption of each media by the end user is at a different point in the respective art’s lifecycle. Music has live performance, and streaming in many ways is a calling card to a more intimate experience. Books, without consideration for film adaptation, are the end point for the artist. Assuming that amazon can apply what works for books to music is a mistake. If we were still “collecting” CDs and DVDs like 5 years ago, then it might seem revolutionary. But, today, it seems…too safe.Lastly, the file locker concept seems a little like a poor man’s dropbox. It also isn’t cost effective as an online back-up. So, I’m left wondering where it’s going. Would a user switch from iTunes? Would a streaming user go back to buying files? I doubt it.

  53. Phil Simon

    The problem with some subscription services is that they don’t carry–or have the rights to carry–all of the music that some of us have and want. I know that I’d lose a good chunk of the music that I collected.I agree, though, that Amazon’s foray is a half-measure. I suspect that they have a tablet lined up that would enable us to access massive libraries while connected.

  54. Nohosocialmedia

    Fred, while I agree Rhapspdy is great, what about for the person who is constantly downloading “leaks” or albums that are not yet released. I find it hard to believe that they have any albums besides “officially released ones. With the quick spread of content and pre releases, I still find it hard to believe that Rhapspdy or other cloud based services will ever capture the younger market, who tend to crave “new, unreleased, or yet to he released music. Still feel like iTunes/downloading torrents will be the music consumption method of choice for the near future. You can prob see the difference just within your own family.

    1. fredwilson

      i use the blogs for that and hypem as an aggregatorthere are about a dozen streaming services i use most every day

  55. theschnaz

    Cool, I’m following you on Rdio now!How do you discover new music? I feel like there isn’t a good service for music sharing and discovery. and Rdio are okay… Talking with friends is the best way for me, but that’s unorganized.Ryan Sims, one of the designers at Rdio, is a great person to follow too.…If anyone wants to follow me, you can do so here….

    1. fredwilson

      “how do you discover music?”blogs, and tumblogs in particular

        1. fredwilson

          No to the first yes to the second

  56. Michael Diamant

    I leave my mac powered on all the time at home (with nearly a TB of music) and run the Stream to Me server (there are a ton like it). I can access my music on my iphone, ipad, laptop or work computer. I don’t understand the need to store it in the cloud and pay for it when it’s already on my home computer, which is always connected.

  57. Rick Wingender

    Ah, Fred, Fred, Fred….I don’t know what a Locker service is, and I don’t care. What I do know is that I have no interest in limiting myself to streaming services. I do listen to Pandora, AOL radio, and others some of the time, but I also buy a TON of MP3s from Amazon, and I also have probably a half terabyte of MP3s on multiple external hard drives.I’m not a fan of streaming services as my primary source, and I never will be. First of all, then I have to listen to damned commercials. I’m pretty happy with my little Sansa player, my Droid, my various devices at home that play all my music, which I own, sans commercials.Second, I’m not a fan because I fully expect that the minute I start paying for, or configuring, a streaming service, it will go out of business or make significant changes that I don’t like, and then my investment is down the toilet.Third, there will always be connection issues. The network is down. My ISP is having bandwidth issues. Whatever. These are never issues when you’re music is owned and being played on your Sansa.Lastly, why the hell should I limit myself to what some streaming provider wants or is able to give me? With MP3s, I have maximum flexibility to find, download, record, steal, create, whatever I can find. And no one can ever take it away from.I once had a boss who told me, when I was a really young guy: “Rick, you need to lease a car. You’ll ALWAYS have a car payment anyway. You need a hot car because you date a lot”. That was the only bad advice I ever got from him. I will never, ever lease another car. It’s a ripoff. I like owning my cars, and not having a car payment, and not worrying about how many miles I put on it, thank you very much!!

    1. fredwilson

      i like to own cars toobut music is bits and i don’t like to own bits unless they are personal like family photos

      1. Robert Holtz

        Well said. I own my cars as well… but those are inescapably physical.When something transcends physicality, it transcends needing to be owned in the traditional sense. That transcendence then ushers in an entirely new set of criteria for assessing what constitutes the best value.Having considered everyone else’s thoughts in this thread, I think ultimately the decision is very individual. It is weighted heavily by your personal usage patterns. Clearly the future top 3 providers will all have to offer some mix of more than one model. Lockers are an interesting transitional catch-all.(Sorry Fred, I meant to reply to @Rick Wingender in support of your point… clicked on the wrong “Reply”).

  58. Wes Smith

    Fidelity? I don’t know any streaming service, or cloud that does .wav format. In fact, in most cases, like SoundCloud (which I’m an avid user) your getting a 128kbps stream. Great for earbuds, lacking on pro headphones, and a total waste of time on a proper sound system…in the meantime what has happened is simple superior fidelity (think vinyl) of a generation happy with a great album has been traded for commercialization. I’m not preaching the “vinyl is better” even though it is, but simply saying that CloudAudio anything has yet to bring us what we had, much less exceed it. More social, yes, better listening, no way. You could argue it’s replaced the music experience similar to how Facebook has redefined “friend” or “like”. I like CloudWhatever, but am careful with remembering the past too, especially where quality matters to me. Aside from Fidelity, I’m definitely in the camp on “collecting” so I agree with those that say the content is limited. It’s not like jeans, where I can probably live with something “similar”.

  59. Wes Smith

    Oh, almost forgot…although not the mass market, asking your Pro DJ crowd to rely on this during a live performance….not going to happen… until a whole long string of improvements are made…bandwith, ubiquity in venues, etc…go try to figure out how to use Serato Scratchlive, or NI Traktor, etc…with something like this…and further, just imagine what a buzzkill while your rockin out at a bar, lounge, club, etc…and there’s no bottom end, or the music keeps “bufferin” g;)

    1. fredwilson

      for sure

  60. Pete Roome

    Interesting post. Ive found myself in this black hole of music too. I have a digital music library of ~600gb. I love having my own collection of tracks, my own playlists and the fact i can have it with me anytime without an internet connection. I also listen to a lot of new stuff that can’t be found on Spotify. At the same time though i also like the social aspect of sharing playlists etc on Spotify.The dilemma though is that i find myself constantly running out of physical space to store my music and feel something cloud based would be sensible. Services like the new Amazon one for this reason i find quite interesting. However, for a library the size of mine it’s still looking quite pricey but at the same time the capacity is scalable, naturally.I’ve been working on a service myself, called Rakkit, which is coming along nicely. Some of you guys might like to sign up for an invite: service will aggregate new music from around the web, allowing people to organize playlists and access the music anytime they can connect online.Each user will have a public profile to share with anyone and anyone can listen to music recently played by a user. Users will be able to follow other users and discover new music based on recommendations from friends.Anyway, we are just finalizing the interface before launching in the next couple of months. Don’t forget to signup at:

  61. Dan D

    You know what… you’re absolutly right. Now that I think of it, digital lockers seem kinda backwards. I had heard of Rdio in the past but never tried it. Its AMAZING! I’m just a trial user now but will def be buying! Thanks for the recommendation!

  62. TMC2K

    FredI don’t think that Amazon is playing an OR game here (Locker OR Subscription). I don’t know their plans but it seems to me they are using their cloud assets to create a risky but potenitally strong leverage point with the labels to produce services that result in an AND set of products. The announced that they are negotiating with license holders while launching the service.If they pull it off, they would be in a very strong position for all types of music consumers by providing locker, streaming, discover, purchase, rental, social or whatever other model a consumer wants (which is Amazon’s forte).

    1. fredwilson

      that would be a brilliant strategy

  63. Brian Hayashi @connectme

    I worked in commercial services and corporate venturing for the nation’s largest cable TV company, which included DMX, one of the first big streaming services.It’s my sense that part of the current thinking about music has been shaped by the conceit that music licenses are fungible; hence the number of restaurants, etc. that use their iPods to stream music to their customers. Further, the few cases that ASCAP/BMI/SESAC deigns to pursue seem to inevitably end in “undisclosed settlement” that definitely include a monetary fine. So to me, it seems that there is an unmet need for a Harry Fox-type entity to administer music rights for commercial entities in a way that is easy and cost-effective. I look at lockers as the licensing equivalent of a financial lockbox, where music usage is tracked and corresponding payments are sent in near-real time to the corresponding rights holder.I suspect that once started, new revenue-generating opportunities are going to open up, similar to the sponsorship model Ford is running with the NY Times paywall.

  64. Prokofy

    I’m for lockers. Music is a commodity made by artists and supported by record companies. It’s ok to treat their product as a discrete commodity and sell discrete units of it. In fact, this is still done in the form of CDs and still done in the form of individual tunes and *gasp* even still done with evil DRM, and that’s all good. It teaches people the relationship between a discrete item that another human being has to make and sell and teaches you some respect for it.The concept of streaming is based on the greed of geeks who form the class who want the “buy once and use anywhere” feature because they can buy lots of gadgets and have homes and cars and ipods where they want all this music distributed. The concept of streaming also fits with the heavy consumptive patterns of the minority of people who have either lots of time or lots of money (and most of us do not fit in either of these categories).I fail to see why entire industries “have” to be destroyed and numerous livelihoods demolished to satisfy the yens of this uber class of geek gadgeteers. Yet that’s what happens again and again in our country in the last 15 years with the product cycles of Silicon Valley that have destroyed the music, book, newspaper and other digital content businesses using the Internet, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in losses and untold dislocation with job losses. When something becomes that destructive, to serve only one class of people, you have to ask: do we need this? Can it be done another way?It’s funny how the West has evolved around to de-emphasizing consumption of energy, going localvore for food, celebrating slow food and organic food, practicing recycling, simplifying life in many ways regarding organic goods but when it comes to digital items, the enormous, vociferous greed for more and more and entire endless 24/7 constantly varying streams seems insatiable — merely because of the analog hole. I think it’s ok to question this. And therefore I think it’s more than fine to have a locker and not a stream.



  66. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

    Is it the industry that is getting in the way, or the technology?



  68. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

    For a change, lady luck seemed to be smiling on me. Then again, maybe the fickle wench was just lulling me into a false sense of security while she reached for a rock.Timothy ZahnORWoman is always fickle – foolish is he who trusts her.Francis I