Insights and Opinions

When the Cloud Goes Poof...

Paul Resnikoff, publisher of the Digital Music News, which provides news, information, and analysis of the digital music industry, published this editorial Thursday, and gave us permission to reprint it here. It was originally published on Digital Music News.

Just think. Your entire collection in the sky, accessible from wherever, whenever, without the hassle of hard drives, synchronizations, or downloads.

Now, just think about what happens when it all goes away, without warning. Sure, inside the industry, the problems plaguing Imeem were well known. But for the fan? Abruptly, Imeem subscribers are being redirected to MySpace Music, and their cloud has suddenly gone dry. "This news is incredibly distressing,"one fan lamented in a C|Net comment thread. "I have 80 personal playlists (or had) on Imeem."

Others were also wondering why their collections went 'poof' overnight. "A warning would have been nice, that's all at the least, from loyal long-time users like you and me," another said.

So who to blame? This is a problem that started long before MySpace arrived, and Imeem is a classic 'long story'. At the eleventh hour, MySpace was forced to trigger the redirect before the lights went out at Imeem, and MySpace is now working through the details of resurrecting user playlists. But given the general backdrop of chaos, some of this information may not make it across.

But even if it does, what happens if the user simply hates MySpace Music? Even if the contents are transferred over perfectly and with a smile, many fans will simply jump ship. Actually, a large percentage may have already walked away.

Suddenly, the safer bet seems to be downloading - in massive quantities, illegally. Storage gets cheaper and cheaper every day, and BitTorrent can deliver albums (and catalogs) in minutes. Sure, locally-stored collections can also get 'lost in the fire,' stolen, corrupted, or otherwise destroyed, but at least the user is not dependent on a third-party company. Because companies go broke (Imeem) or get acquired (Lala) all the time, and in the case of ad-supported, on-demand streams, the space has never been shiftier. And yes, the same applies to Spotify, and even paid platforms like Rhapsody and Napster.

Too little vision? Perhaps, but in 2009, the cloud simply requires an irrational level of trust in a third-party provider. The simpler technological solution - a locally-stored collection - is vastly safer and more reliable in the here-and-now, and potentially far into the future as well.

Paul Resnikoff is the founder and publisher of Digital Music News (">">, a premier industry source for news, information, and analysis. Digital Music News has quickly grown from its humble roots as a small, executive news service to the most widely read information source in the field. Prior to starting Digital Music News, Paul Resnikoff headed the digital music initiative at internet portal Lycos. In that role, Resnikoff managed relationships with several major labels, including the former BMG and Sony Music Entertainment. Resnikoff started out at Epic Records (Sony Music Entertainment) in New York, specifically in worldwide marketing.