Without knowing all the details, it stuns me that record labels in America continue to be very short sighted about the fact that the vast majority of consumers get their music digitally from the internet. Perhaps they are still smarting over the Napster debacle from the 90’s, but if an internet giant like Google came to me and said, “Hey, let’s launch a killer service that all of our users will have access to and will get you guys paid, but it will be in a different way than you are used to.”, I would sit up and listen and most likely act. Not so with the current major recording companies, as Engadget is reporting that someone has leaked that Google Music will be announced today at I/O, but as a cloud storage and streaming service rather than a subscription based offering. And the labels wonder why the continue to hemorrhage money. The article states that talks with major labels broke down, because they were making some pretty strong demands, ones that Google found to be unsustainable. The specifics were not available as of the writing of this article, but if we take the past history of how labels have demanded exorbitant fees from services like Pandora and Slacker, one can imagine what they tried to hit Google with.
Someone needs to buy a copy of “Long-Tail Economics” for these record labels, and point at the iTunes music store. I honestly do not know anyone who is buying cd’s anymore. And honestly, I don’t know many people who are even buying music, they simply go find it somewhere on the net, record labels be damned. There is a cliche saying for sure, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” You will never stop piracy, but you can present something that gives an alternative that would make piracy less than desirable, and I am not talking lawsuits of single mom’s either. My gut feeling is that Google offered a plan to labels that would have made them a large amount of money over the long haul. My continued gut feeling is telling me that the record labels balked at those ideas because it did not make them large amounts of money right away, and that they did not like putting Google in a power position with their product. Either way, I am sure that details will come out as time passes.
The good news is that it looks like we Android users are going to get the capability to store up to 20,000 tracks in the cloud, and stream said tracks to our Android devices. It is being said that Xoom owners are going to get first crack at the service, with the rest of us getting access in the coming weeks.
This service will still be a cool thing to have, but I am having heartache right now at what this service could have been. I am hoping that somehow, someway Google and the record labels will go back to the table and sort it out.
We will have more news when this gets officially announced.