Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Music Anywhere: Carphone Warehouse launches inexplicable music streaming service

At first, it sounds like it might be an interesting cloud-based service:

A groundbreaking mobile music service that will allow music-lovers to access their entire music collection on the move, at work or on their mobile phone, will launch tomorrow, in what is being welcomed as positive move by the embattled music industry.
On closer investigation, though, it turns out to be totally pointless.

You sign up for the service. You pay thirty quid a year. It crawls your desktop music collection, uses 'musical fingerprinting' to make a list of what you have. Then, when you're listening to your phone, instead of storing the music on your phone, it plays you tracks from its servers which match those you have on your computer.

So, you're using data transmission to float files across to your ears that you could have just stored on the phone in the first place. And paying £30 on top.

With indications that the phone companies are about to cull unlimited data packages, using your ration to access files that you could have stored locally would seem a little odd. The thing only works with modern smart handsets, so it's not like it's a way of bringing music to older phones.

If your music collection is too big for your phone, admittedly, it might an interesting idea (although you'd also be likely to discover that much of what you have isn't kept within the six million tracks offered by Music Anywhere), then you could have up until recently used Simplify Media to do the same thing for the price of an iPhone app - shortly the technology will reappear under Google ownership.

In effect, paying thirty quid and data transfer to hear a subset of songs you own is just a bemusing offer.
"This is a real turning point for the music industry," said Harry Malone, chief executive of Catch Media, the technology company involved in creating the service.

"I do think it has the potential to transform the industry because it provides a new source of revenue and will help to reduce piracy. It is so easy, simple and cheap that it is an encouragement for pirates not to bother stealing," he said.
But... it doesn't actually, does it? You've got to have the music on your computer to start with, and expressly the service doesn't check if the files are licensed or not.

In fact, if I wanted to hear, say, Blondie's early stuff on my phone, and didn't already own it, I might be tempted to go and grab it off the torrents precisely so that it would be picked up by the fingerprinting part of Music Anywhere.

There's no link with piracy here at all - it's like suggesting that restaurants offering corkage will stop people stealing wine.

Curious all round.

[If you need another reason to avoid Music Anywhere, Carphone Warehouse are in a business partnership with Best Buy, one of the companies suppporting happy-with-homophobes Republican politician Tom Emmer.]