Is the Future of Digital Music in the Cloud? Mossberg Weighs in

The idea of storing and playing music from the cloud may be in its infancy, but for some, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) current offerings might be worth trying out, despite their limitations.

"We all know about iTunes and we all know it works kind of like a digital version of an old record store," Wall Street Journal Personal Technology Columnist Walt Mossberg said in his weekly All Things Digital segment on FOX Business. "It's not easily shared among different devices and different people. There are some subscription services, they've never really taken off, they have a lot of limitations and other issues."

But a music locker is a hybrid version of music downloaded and those subscription streaming services, Mossberg explained. If you have songs on your PC or a Mac, now you can put those up in the cloud and you can play them on mobile devices and any computer you want, giving you more portability and flexibility.

The two major options for this are currently offered by Amazon's Cloud Drive and the more-recently-launched Music Beta by Google. Both are free for up to a certain amount of storage.

The big "pain point" with them, however, is the need to first upload all the music you already own to the cloud, said Mossberg. "If you have an average Internet connection and a big music collection it could take you days to do that." This, of course, depends on how much music you own.

But what if there was an easier and quicker way? Well, there may be. The reason Amazon and Google went this route, according to Mossberg, is that they were unable to secure the necessary licensing agreements with the music labels.

With the proper licensing, users wouldn't even need to go through the potentially-cumbersome uploading process. Instead, the service they're subscribing to would simply scan their computer's hard drive (only with permission, of course) and determine what songs the users had. It would then grant the user access to stream those files from the cloud without having to upload them, said Mossberg.

One company rumored to be working on such a solution is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). The company which owns iTunes (and, thus might have more sway with the record labels) is reportedly close to putting together the necessary licenses to do this, said Mossberg.