The future of music is intergalactic reality game shows!

Friends, I recently read this article.

It is a very interesting piece about how digital downloads of music seem to be dying in favour of on-demand streaming services.

The basic logic is that since everyone has access to the Internet pretty much whenever they want, and because streaming offers numerous benefits over downloads, and because streaming simply is more popular than downloads right now, music companies might as well get rid of digital downloads and just use streaming.

Makes sense right?

Well, yes and no.

Because the problem with a streaming service is that you you never actually own the music, so if the service goes away you’re left with nothing, even if you’ve spent a fortune on it.

The problem has already been experienced in various video game-related services so in this post I’m going to use examples from the world of gaming to show how it can  will inevitably end up going horribly wrong for the consumer.

It goes a little something like this:

Let’s say you buy a membership to a particular streaming service. Your membership relies on you being able to connect to their servers. If they have to do large scale maintenance, or get DDOSd you can’t access “your” music. The same thing happens if you lose access to the Internet.

Nooooo! I was listening to Yusuf Islam!

There is also the problem of older music, niche music, or music that just isn’t that popular.

Hosting songs takes money. At some point some bean counter is going to say “Gee, we could increase profits by 2% if we just deleted a bunch of less-popular content from our service…”

You know that band you like that no-one else does? Well it’s gone now.
B-Sides, cover versions, rare live recordings, once-off duets? All gone. *poof*

But perhaps fans will make them available at their own expense, to share the love?
Nope! Because that would be copyright infringement!

And the streaming services will smack down on them with the wrath of god to protect their little fiefdom, even if they’re not using it.

See, the central problem with buying a “service” over buying a “product” is that with a service you never actually own anything. You could spend as much money on streaming as you did on downloads, and never own a single song.

And you will never, EVER have the legal right to complain when something you’ve spent a fortune on is suddenly not available.

Read through the agreement that we all skim over before clicking “Accept”.

Well you shoulda watched the safety briefing then!

You will find that you have absolutely no legal rights when the service decides that it no longer wants you to have something.

And for me, that’s a serious problem.

Streaming music instead of actually owning it might seem like a good thing in the short-term but in the long-term we’re all going to get screwed by it.

Hmmm….is that a Panasonic? Or a Phillips?

[Standard Disclaimer: this post was entirely my own opinion and was not paid for in any way, directly or otherwise, by anyone or anything that stands to gain in any way from the ideas expressed herein.]

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