Business News Digital

Amazon begins to shut down digital music locker service

By | Published on Wednesday 20 December 2017


Amazon has announced that it has begun the process of shutting down its online music storage service. You’d forgotten Amazon even had such a thing, hadn’t you? And to think, it was all so controversial back in 2011.

Launched in the US that year, Amazon Music Storage sparked a dispute with record labels and music publishers because it didn’t have any licences from those companies. The online retailer argued that licences were not required, because its customers were entitled to back up their digital files online under their private copy right. The labels and publishers countered that, while that may be true, playing back those files online did require licences.

After months of refusal to budge on either side, Amazon eventually caved and negotiated licences with the labels and publishers. The service eventually launched in the UK in September 2012, where licences were always required, as there is no private copy right under British copyright law (except for that very brief period when there was).

Users of the free version of the service, which allows storage of up to 250 tracks, lost the ability to upload new files on Monday. Music already stored in people’s accounts will remain accessible until January 2019. Meanwhile no new subscriptions – free or paid for – will be accepted after 15 Jan next year.

Exactly how long paying subscribers – who could be storing anywhere up to 250,000 files – will still have access to their accounts remains to be seen. In the short term, those subscribers will be able to renew their existing subscriptions. But should a subscription lapse, there won’t be an option to sign-up anew. Instead, they will be downgraded to a free account, with one year’s access to 250 of their tracks before being locked out altogether.

For those who continue to pay, it seems that Amazon Music Storage will live on for at least sometime after January 2019. How much longer will likely depend, at least in part, on how many of those paying users there are left.

For those still keen on having both an MP3 collection and an online back up of that MP3 collection, both Google and Apple still offer music storage services. Apple’s iTunes Match charges an annual subscription, while Google Play Music allows users to store up to 50,000 tracks for free.