checking out Cloudplay

Cloudplay aggregates no-royalty + no-lawsuit music sources. Which is a twist on “free and legal.” It’s “free, legal, no strings attached.”

Attached to the company, that is. Cloudplay isn’t accumulating bills.

The pattern with music products like this is that they struggle with finding a critical mass of users, but if they do get users they can last a long time. That’s the opposite of Pandora or Pirate Bay, which easily attract huge numbers of people but also have crippling debts (in royalties or legal problems).

Cloudplay is a similar product strategy to Tomahawk, which aggregates multiple sources (“content resolution”) but includes for-pay sources like Spotify. Tomahawk’s catalog is a superset of Cloudplay.

It’s a different value proposition than aggregators of music blogs, which are providing a conversational or social context for the music and repackaging the music with the look and personal touch of HTML-based music blogs. To Hype Machine, Shuffler and Exfm, if a song isn’t being up in the blogs it’s out of scope.

Cloudplay’s user experience is striking. It is about unifying the user experience into a gated community on the client side. It has a sanitary and controlled feel along the lines of iTunes. The search results – across services – are super fast (but sloppy – there are a lot of irrelevant results). The look and navigation is same for, e.g., YouTube and Soundcloud.

Something else striking is that in the midst of this very offline UX you can still copy out a public link to share. Right now I’m listening to a YouTube version of “Rebel Rebel” as if it were a local MP3, and I can still snarf a link on the open web to pass along – . This fixes a common problem with apps like Rdio and iTunes, that you end up all by yourself in a gloriously rich desert island.

Cloudplay monetizes by selling the app, priced at $2. So they don’t pay for content and charge for software.

It’s a neat idea executed nicely.