So Much For The Big Guns’ Online Music Plans

The next-generation of online music services, due to be launched by two of our biggest tech companies, look a lot like, well, the current generation.

The Financial Times, which has found out from music industry execs, explains: “Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is now looking to use the cloud mainly to allow users of its iTunes store to back up their collections and access them from any Apple device.”

Meanwhile, “Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is hoping to combine this with a digital locker service that would allow users to keep copies of their media in the cloud.”

A locker? That‘s our digital future… ?

Such an addition may allow smartphone and tablet users, for example, to finally organise their library without having to tie their devices via cable to a blasted computer…

But this sounds mostly like merely a hard drive in the sky – a new place for existing customers to store files they already “own”.

The idea sticks closely to today’s à  la carte, per-track model of buying individual tracks, which itself replicates yesteryear’s model in which music was packaged up in to individual plastic units of consumer product.

Growth in this method of buying digital music has basically peaked in the U.S.. Will a hard drive in the sky give it a lift? Unlikely. Some now think that illegal music consumption is so tempting that the industry should effectively mimic this “music like water” approach legally.

That’s why some labels, notably Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG), are getting keen for new access models like the unlimited-access subscription services from Rhapsody, Mog, Spotify and Rdio, which are trying to do for music what cable and Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) are doing for TV and movies respectively; if only their economics can stack up.

But, if Apple and Google have won label licenses for their new services, the labels’ position is curious – after all, the likes of EMI have spent years suing independent lockers like MP3Tunes operated by Michael Robertson.