As music fans, we've all been collecting albums and tracks for years and have pretty sizeable collections by now.
If only those collections could come with us when we migrate to new music platforms in the future.
Let's picture how a typical music fan's collection might look. There will be a bunch of CDs, certainly from their younger days. They might have a few records, either from decades ago or more recently after taking an interest in special edition boxsets by the likes of Radiohead. They will probably have a huge digital collection inside an app like iTunes, either from legal purchases or copying tracks from friends or the internet over the last decade. And, more recently, they might also have a library of playlists inside Spotify.
Music collections are a real mess.
While there are solutions for compiling all this audio into one place for one platform - for example, you can scan CD barcodes into Covify to import them as Spotify playlists - it's not ideal. What if some albums aren't available on there? What if you want to take your new fully-compiled Spotify library to another platform in the future? Is Spotify going to lock you in?
An inherent problem with music is that it's tied to the format you buy it. Compare this to, say, mobile phone numbers. If you switch contracts, you can take your number with you. Sadly, this isn't true with music.
There are glimmers of hope for people who want to build a forward-thinking music library, even if they don't completely solve the "portable music" dream yet.
Tomahawk is an app that draws music from public and legal sources like Soundcloud and YouTube, and helps its users get around geo-restricted content (something our non-US readers will identify with). It can pull playlists from Spotify too, which helps avoid an inevitable Spotify lockdown one day. Best of all, it's an open source project so you don't have to worry about commercial interests getting in the way of its noble music mission.
A similar new platform, albeit with commercial intentions, is Musicplayr. It just raised 500,000 ($651,600) to build essentially the same kind of app as Tomahawk but is using its capital to hire the kind of designers Tomahawk could only dream of. Tomahawk might trump Musicplayr on features, but first impressions count for a lot and web users might gravitate towards the superficial bright lights of Musicplayr instead.
Of course, if either app were adopted by the mainstream, labels and artists will probably take down their legal music streams and brand it as "the new piracy" - but that discussion can wait. For now.
Whichever app you opt for, their progressive attitude towards what a music library should be are driving a change that could stay with us for years. When users don't even have to think about how their music is accessed, other than trusting it uses legal sources, that's when we'll finally have a chance of collecting a universal library that stays with us forever.
Tom Davenport (@TomDavenport)