UPDATED 12:24 EDT / AUGUST 03 2010

Rdio Launch and Lala Delays, Two Ends of the Music-Cloud Spectrum

The cloud has seen a handful of developments this week, latching onto consumers by way of music. Cloud-based music service Rdio launched its public beta, while Apple continues to work on its Lala project. In all, there’s some good, some bad, some ugly. But the cloud remains a prominent catalyst for monetizing the new music industry.

Rdio is the main news here; Skype and Kazaa co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom teamed up once again to create a subscription music app, with access via web and mobile devices. Having been in closed beta testing for the past few weeks, Rdio’s launch introduces another wave of cloud-oriented consumer services.

For music in particular, the concept of the cloud has grown more attractive to larger developers and the industry as a whole. Apple’s cloud interests don’t stop at music–it’s got mobile devices, a browser and a marketplace for pushing virtual products. But entertainment is central to Apple’s consumer appeal, and access to music is what brought the company back into the limelight.

So it’s a little disappointing to see that Apple is slowing down and pulling back on many of the features Lala already had, or expected to provide upon relaunch. Having been acquired by Apple late last year, Lala represented Apple’s big push into a more open service for interacting with music content.

Carphone Warehouse has also launched a cloud-based, music subscription service in the UK, with the blessings of major record label executives. The monetization of independent services seems established enough, though they have yet to prove scalable. Spotify, another UK-based music startup, has met a similar fate in its growth efforts–it has yet to make it across the pond.

When it comes to cloud-based music, the biggest players also act as the biggest regulators. Lala was a beloved tool until Apple took the reigns, with a series of missteps leading its initial path astray. Once you get to the major leagues, there’s a lot more at stake for consumers, labels, and mediating services.

The Telegraph notes one such issue as it pertains to Carphone Warehouse–pooling users’ saved music also provides an opportunity to sniff out illegal song copies. It wasn’t that long ago that copyright infringement was a favorite phrase from finger-pointing record labels, and their acceptance of cloud-based music services is a fresh face for regulating these new platforms.

It’s an issue we’re going to bump into a great deal, particularly when it comes to consumer behavior as its saved in the cloud. To whom does that data belong, and what entities get to control it? Equally important is the matter of who gets to monetize it, and it which points is the data monetizable?

Questions the music industry finds itself knee deep in, and the industry overall now includes a number of digital fronts (from Apple to Rdio). As with most other aspects of the digital revolution, music has lent itself to turmoil and experimentation, leading the way for other consumer industries that must inevitably follow suit.


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