Earlier this year Amazon introduced Amazon's Cloud Player, allowing customers to play songs from a number of online devices and upload all the songs they own to Amazon's data storage facilities. This move repositioned Amazon from being an online retailer to become an entertainment destination.
This means that customers can slice and dice the content database anyway they like: by artist, by genre, by year, by songwriter, by popularity, and so on. The music service would know what customers are interested in, and based on what they've chosen in the past create recommendations.
Musicians, songwriters and even labels can be compensated through a system that tracks their popularity. All the music would be pooled and using mathematical and statistical economics, the total pie would be divided up according to the number of times the song of a given artist was streamed.
The issue seems to be that Amazon launched Cloud Player without licensing agreements with the labels whose material is stored and distributed. For Amazon licences are not necessary: “We do not need a licence to store music in Cloud Drive. The functionality of saving MP3s to Cloud Drive is the same as if a customer were to save their music to an external hard drive or even iTunes.” The same might not hold true for streaming over Cloud Player and they probably need to work out all the legal issues related to the service.
Later this year Amazon launched Kindle Cloud Reader, expanding the kindle ecosystem by allowing customers to access their ebooks in Google Chrome and Safari browsers.
Once you sign in with your Amazon account, it will aggregate all the ebooks you've bought with that account in one single place. Customers can select an item and read it. The service also offers purchases from within the app and local storage, allowing for offline reading.
These days Warner Bros. is soft-launching their Ultraviolet digital film service.
Ultraviolet is a project designed to bring together the world of retail DVD and Blu-ray sales with streaming content. The service proposition also allows customers to stream a digital version of the same content from virtually any device, in whatever format works best and up to six people in a household.
The goal of all these services is simple: To free the consumers to choose how and where they want to enjoy their content.
Once all the pieces are in place: All our electronics devices are connected to the internet, licence rights are agreed and people are comfortable with streaming content, it will be a small step to persuade mainstream consumers to accept the idea of content as a service rather than buying individual assets. For a small monthly fee or other business models, consumers could have access to all the content ever released. Assets would be streamed to you when you want it and where you want it.
There is growing number of other cloud-based services using this new way of collect and consume content. Services such as Spotify, Pandora, Netflix, Vudu and iCloud are helping to ensure that musicians, writers and filmakers can make a living doing what they love: Create content.
Personally, I think if done right this is a big step towards restructuring the music, publishing and entertainment industry to treat content as a service rather than a product to be sold.
Bring it on!