From Album to Tape to CD to .mp3 File to...the Cloud
Jon Pareles published an excellent article in the New York Times about the ever-evolving makeup of the music we listen to, and it all seems to be headed to the same inevitable conclusion: the cloud, which you may have already had exposure to on Amazon, Apple and Google. Cloud computing isn't new and it isn't limited to music - people have been creating Microsoft Office documents on-line for years - but with regard to music, the cloud simply refers to on-line storage that allows listeners to access music from multiple devices via an Internet connection, rather than having to copy mass quantities of storage from device to device.
For my own website, I've been using a DivShare to store my own compositions, though with the Big Boys now in the cloud business, I suspect it's only a matter of time before DivShare gets purchased.
Of course, having each music listener in the world own their own cloud requires storage - massive storage - and insane redundancy, not to mention user time. Remember how long it took you to convert your CDs to .mp3 files all those years ago? If you and I both own The White Album, does it make sense for each of us to have to upload the same album (again) and store it on-line? Why not just have the album stored in one place that both of us have access to?
Apple is all over this concept with iMatch, that - for a fee - will recognize music you own (legally or illegally) and provide access to their own copies. For those of us with hundreds or even thousands of CDs, this concept is an attractive one.
Cloud computing continues the trend of diminishing the value of music, and poses a tricky problem for artists who are already feeling the squeeze since physical ownership of a song became unnecessary. When listeners have access to any song at any time from any place, the song becomes something less in the hearts and minds of the listener. As Mr. Pareles wrote:
"Songs have become, for lack of a better word, trivial." Now anyone with Internet access has "an infinitude of choices immediately at hand. But each of those choices is a diminished thing; attainable without effort, disposable without a second thought, just another icon in a folder on a pocket-size screen with pocket-sized sound."