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The Paradox Of The Cloud
As I see it, the purpose of the cloud is to increase and ease our ability to access and store music. The cloud is an invisible external hard drive for us, and a perpetual playlist of music that isn’t ours but to which we can have virtually unlimited access. The theoretical convenience of such a system is undeniable. Most of us carry phones that have high speed connectivity to the internet, so it makes sense that we would store our music there rather than on the memory cards and hard drives that previously housed our music libraries.
However, as a resident of New York City and frequent rider of underground public transit, I cannot help but wonder if the cloud hasn’t significantly reduced my access to my own music. I store my music library of roughly 15 thousand songs on Google Music, and – until recently – also carried an iPod with 80gb of space. My iPod held about three-quarters of my music, and I was never lacking for listening options or podcasts. My music would play instantly, without buffering, and I could listen to it underground, above ground, or on a plane. My access to a rather extensive music library of my own design was unabated as it was. What problem does the cloud solve for me?
Well, for one thing, my iPod never could house all of my music. The constant dance of checking and unchecking songs for upload was admittedly getting a little frustrating. Why should I have to remove Fleetwood Mac just because I also want to listen to the new Kanye album? Furthermore, how many people can say they have 15 thousand songs on their computers or portable listening devices? The cloud expands access for all music listeners, even those with libraries as overblown as my own, to include not just what an individual would choose, but also what is recommended to that individual by friends and robots…I mean…algorithms.
And, perhaps most importantly, the cloud makes it possible for individual listeners to share the listening experience with each other via social networking media. This ability to influence each other’s musical choices and tastes is revolutionizing the experience of listening to and discovering new music.
By Jacob Hyman