After thinking a little more about the post I wrote on Saturday about how Apple’s deals with the major labels aren’t really that much of an advantage, I started thinking about what Apple could do with their cloud music offering that would truly make it immediately and obviously superior to what Google and Amazon have to offer. Any conversation I have with like-minded music geeks about music in the cloud always ends up the same way: that the products so far are interesting, but aren’t really worth our while. Too slow, too inaccessible, not enough storage, not worth the cost.
But what features could Apple offer that would trump Amazon and Google, and just as importantly, actually make it worth spending money on?
Make it sync exactly with iTunesDeals with the major labels will only do so much. Apple needs to figure out a way that your cloud iTunes library looks exactly like your desktop iTunes library. I’m one of those music/Apple geeks that The Onion made fun of with an “immaculately maintained iTunes library”, and so if my smart playlists and tags don’t mirror what I have at home, it’s a service that’s only going to have limited use for me. I’ll only turn to it when I’m desperate to hear something that I don’t have on my iPod. This is a feature that’s a must for me for a cloud iTunes to be more than a curiosity.
Make it an actual music locker/backup for your musicThis is highly unlikely, both because of the label’s copyright concerns and user’s privacy concerns, but if they could have it actually upload the exact music files that you have on your machine which could be downloaded again in case of a hard drive fail, that would give them a huge advantage.
Amazon already has a limited version of this, in that if you buy music from their mp3 store, it’ll store them for you at no charge to the space and allow you to download the files, giving you a backup of everything you buy in the Amazon store.
Have an unlimited-space cloud music player, like LalaI guess there are plenty of people who have music libraries below 20 GB, but I don’t know very many. Now, I tend to be friends with some hardcore music nerds, and I know I’m biased towards my kind, but until a service can offer something that the music nerds will use and love, nothing is going to lead the pack.
Only require uploads for songs not in the iTunes libraryThis is the feature that people seem to think that Lala had: that you start the uploader program, and if it matches something in the library, it doesn’t require the lengthy upload process for that song. People keep claiming that Lala had, but if they did, then I had a LOT of music that wasn’t in the Lala library, because it took months for all my music to be uploaded.
Allow listening to full albums and songs without adding to your libraryThis was the real beauty of Lala, and I don’t get why no one else has done it. I assume it’s because paying those royalties eats way too much into the profits. But being able to go and check out a full album out of curiosity was fantastic, and thereason I really miss Lala.
Drop Ping and incorporate Lala’s social featuresI discovered a lot of great music simply through seeing what the people I was following were listening to and liking. This is almost a given in any cloud music offering that Apple will have, but they need to make it much better. Ping is worthless.
Ability to listen to your cloud library on the iPhone (at least)This is another feature that’s all but certain, but it’s going to take some real smarts to make it good. If streaming my music starts eating a big chunk of my usage minutes, why wouldn’t I just turn back to the iPod app instead of listening in the cloud?
Anything else you’d like to add?