Universal Music Group executive VP of eLabs, Rio Caraeff, spoke about the concept of the "living album" during a keynote address at the Leadership Music Summit One in Nashville on Tuesday. TechDirt's Mike Masnick was drawn to that concept as well  and he covered the forward-thinking Caraeff's stance on such topics as licensing (it's not working) and pushing access over ownership.
The living album concept is based upon the notion that music companies' most valuable product is the music experience. A living album would be a dynamic, interactive experience with user-generated content and open standards.
Caraeff's discussion of access over ownership and cloud-based services showed a major music company can be flexible and visionary. Such talk is years ahead of the licensing plans, hardware and software that will make it possible. It also contrasts with current trends and historical precedent. Access models are still niche players, and political momentum is behind models that grant ownership, not access.
Monetizing music at the ISP level, a hot topic in Europe as well as the U.S., is an idea based on the belief that consumers want to download - and own - music. If consumers want only access, they can stream music. Streaming however, is not a word that enters these conversations. The schemes being pursued are built upon the act of downloading. The Choruss not-for-profit, which seeks fee-based, unlimited downloading models for universities, also assumes consumers prefer downloading (ownership) over streaming (access).
To date, access models have proven to be limited in popularity (tethered subscription services, cloud-based services) or limited in revenue (ad-supported streaming services). If it is to work, a better mousetrap will need to be built. And if the majors are going to embrace cloud-based music services, they will need to warm to the idea rather than sue companies in the field.