Sources tell Billboard that Amazon is working to launch a feature that will populate its Cloud Player accounts with tracks from physical CDs purchased on Amazon. One estimate puts the new feature launching this fall.
Cloud Player is Amazon's cloud locker and player. Originally launched last year as a plain storage and locker service, Cloud Player was updated on July 31 with a scan-and-match feature. For $25 a year, Cloud Player users can duplicate their music collection in the cloud without having to upload each file individually (that price comes with 50 GB of storage) Amazon secured licenses from all four major labels and over 150 independent music companies in order to add the service.
Cloud Player was designed to be integrated with Amazon's MP3 store. Individual track and album purchases are immediately populated in the user's account whether or not the files are downloaded to a specific device.
Now Amazon is planning to populate Cloud Player accounts with the tracks its customers purchase in the CD format. According to sources, Amazon wanted its customers' CD purchases to automatically populate their Cloud Player accounts just as MP3 purchases currently show up in a buyer's account. One source points to a fall launch.
Rights owners appear eager for the new service. Billboard has confirmed at least two major labels have already agreed to terms with Amazon to populate locker accounts with purchased CD tracks. As part of the rate settlements for new business models, music publishers had already agreed to allow physical retailers to populate virtual lockers as long as there was a physical sale, explains David Israelite, president and CEO of the National Music Publishers Association. "This agreement is the result of very productive negotiations that are ultimately very good for the consumer," says Israelite.
Leveraging CD sales helps both Amazon and the music business. Opening up Cloud Player to CD buyers has the potential to bring digital music to an entirely new group of consumers. Given Amazon's CD market share and this technology's dramatic reduction in friction - automatic account population is far easier than ripping a CD once it arrives IN the mail - this new feature is a sensible way to lure CD buyers into the cloud. It would also make the Cloud Player stand apart from iTunes Match, which leverages the popular iTunes store and media player, and Google Music, which currently lacks scan-and-match features.