Recently the tech world has been absolutely buzzing about “cloud” systems and music. Amazon has charged ahead with theirs, claiming that they need no license from the record labels, and Google is reportedly, furtively, working on their own system as well. If so, this could be the latest power move from the tech scene which could make for yet more waves within the already turbulent music industry. But given that Black music has consistently been so coveted (helped by tech advances in ringtones to downloads) just how could this development affect the young artists behind the creativity and who constitute a chunk of our Black GDP?
But first, exactly what is a “cloud”, and how could it enable you, the average music fan, to access tracks from Nicki Minaj to Trey Songz? Essentially cloud computing means being able to access data resources on-demand via a shared pool of computer networks with little management effort or service provider interaction. You can easily access the information from, for example, a Web browser while the software or data is actually stored on servers elsewhere. The beauty of the tech model is that it provides one single point of access for computing needs. Think of it similarly to how you access electricity directly to your home from a complex grid system and doing so without any knowledge required of how the grid system works. You simply can tap into that electricity at any time into any room from the single point access of your home.
Now, visualize that same ability when it comes to obtaining to your music.
One purchase could mean access to any of your devices at any time, anywhere. Thanks to the “cloud”, you can upload and stream whenever and where you want. Naturally, the labels aren’t checking for this. In fact, an exec within the Universal Music system told me that while he could see that fans would love “clouds”, he’s not feeling the system because he sees how it could adversely affect sales. While the average consumer is far from concerned about the economic well-being of such huge music conglomerates; the real question is about artists’ earnings. Since they would be paid, largely, from the streamed model a “cloud” offers rather than multiple downloads, it could be a real negative. Artists make mere pennies on streamed music as opposed to full downloads. The upside, though, could be greater revenue from touring, advertising and further ancillary opportunities given the greater listenership clouds could offer.
Only time will tell how this development will play out, but one thing for sure is that it will have a huge effect on our artists and their ecosystems. There seems to be a need for a collective voice representing their interests specifically in order to help them better leverage the opportunities. In this era, it can’t just be about being an entertainment creative but rather about being a simultaneous digital business opportunist, particularly as a Black music artist.
So what do you think? Are you for the “cloud” or not? Do you see Black music artists as digitally savvy when it comes to their business or not?
Let me know below.