Photo by Fiona Henderson

The first in a week-long series of Cloud panels, the What The Hell Is The Cloud And Why Should I Care? panel served as a bringing-up-to-speed session on what exactly Cloud technology is, how to get the most out of it and where it’s headed. Cloud technology allows people to access their stuff (songs, documents, data, etc.) anywhere by using the Internet rather than heaps of hardware and software.
It’s a technology that music services like Spotify are currently capitalizing on, allowing people to access their music libraries regardless of their location or device. Cloud availability and accessibility is rapidly expanding, and as panelist Henrik Lenberg of SoundCloud said, it is likely that you will soon be able to access your entire music library as well as recommendations based on your taste not only on smartphones but everywhere—your car, your home stereo and so on.
The appeal of Cloud technology to musicians and others in the music industry is that it gives them access to a treasure trove of information about when, where and how their music is being heard. For example, as Mike Gitig of the data backup service Gobbler said, you can access all kinds of “back-end” information and statistics about what’s happening to your music with the Cloud, so if you’re an emerging artist and 500 people are downloading your record in Topeka, KS, you know that that’s probably a good place to stop on tour.
In terms of speculation on where the technology is headed, SoundCloud’s Lenberg had a number of intriguing ideas. He sees “social” services and applications as the next big things for music makers. For instance, he predicted that there will soon be an Instagram type of service for sound, where musicians are able to instantly share and receive feedback on their work with friends. The panelists also agreed that there will soon be some sort of bridge between Guitar Hero-style music gaming and Pro Tools-style music production software, in which people passionate about making and playing music can do so with others over the Web, using Cloud technologies.
Josh Berman, label manager of Warp, acknowledged that while it is still wise to utilize both old media and new media techniques in promotion, artists, labels and radio all need to stop fighting the Cloud and embrace it because the data concerning where, when and how music is being listened to is hugely valuable to success in today’s music industry. As smartphones and tablets become increasingly cheaper and Internet bandwith gets increasingly faster, Cloud technology is only going to become more ubiquitous.