The creation of the Internet has long been a problem for the music industry. Services like Napster and Kazaa popped up and robbed the record companies of a big source of revenue. It took the labels years to figure out how to finally make money off music that was being downloaded, and now they are also figuring out how to profit off music that is stored.
Amazon has reached a deal with the four major U.S. record companies, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner, for full licensing rights to their music in its cloud player, according to published reports.
The agreement would allow consumers to access their music collection on multiple devices from a central location. This is called a "Scan and Match" feature. What this means, in essence, is that Amazon will be able to scan a user’s hard drive, find the music that they currently have available, and then give the users access to copies of those songs on Amazon’s cloud service.
This is a big change for the service. When it was originally introduced last year, users were forced to upload each one of their songs individually to the Amazon server, a difficult and lengthy process for those with a lot of music and slower Internet connections. Now, users can have access to their music remotely without a giant hassle. They will be able to listen to all of the music on their computer; they just will not be listening to their actual files.
Having these licenses appeases the record companies, which were unhappy that Amazon was allowing users to upload music without having legally purchased it. It was previously illegal for Amazon to make copies of the songs, the record companies argued, and doing it this was does not put them in danger of copyright violation.
Sources have also said that users who buy tracks and albums from the Amazon music store will have unlimited storage for free. Users who choose to store music not from Amazon will have to pay a yearly fee.
What, if any, other new services Amazon will now be offering on its cloud server are currently unknown.
With these new licensing agreements, Amazon had made themselves a direct competitor to Apple’s iTunes Match service. They have a similar payment plan as the one Amazon is reportedly going to have. Users on iTunes can currently store their songs for free, or pay $25 a year to store other music as well.
Google also has a music cloud service called Google Music, which will now be the only one of the three to not have licenses from the major record companies.
Amazon was not available for comment
(Image source: digitalpennies.com)