Access v. ownership

Here’s an interesting blog from Mark Mulligan Why The Access Versus Ownership Debate Isn’t Going to Resolve Itself Anytime Soon a couple of days ago. I agree his general argument but I think the case for ownership may be even stronger than he suggests.

Mark Mulligan

Ever since they buried Napster the record industry has tried to breathe life into the rental model. This is what they always hoped the Internet would give them. Pundits have talked about the inevitability of streaming services for over a decade, ignoring the evidence of iTunes. The current Spotify campaign is just the latest example.

Where I differ from Mark Mulligan (and Spotify et al) is those bottom two aspects: Play Everything and Share With Everyone. His illustration gives these points conclusively to the access model. But is that true?

When will we be able to “play everything” through Spotify or any other streaming service? I have written before about the myth of everything everywhere. No streaming service offers everything in my record collection, let alone everything in the charts. The Majors’ cold feet over On Air, On Sale is just another fly in the ointment.

And when will we be able to Share With Everyone on Spotify (or anything similar)? Spotify has 10 million users and many people I know aren’t there, or on Facebook, or any of the other media darlings. The glaring problem here is walled gardens: Spotify users can’t share everyone’s playlists, even with the new apps. This is what the pundits call content resolution. The log-ins that protect different services stop them being open and useful.

People don’t really need “everything”, they just need what they want. For me Spotify comes up short but my record collection is complete, and when I want something new I simply add it. It won’t always be on Spotify, so I give that point to ownership.

And people never really want to “share with everyone”, they just want to share. Spotify can share on Facebook but not to people who aren’t there or to Friends who turn off share-bots. Is there a real sharing problem for people who aren’t on a streaming music service? We have YouTube, email, web sites, blogs and all the walled-gardens. Streaming services have a way to go before they can equal the web at large, when it comes to sharing.

Don't just sit there fuming, write something!