The future of music is going to be boring. Streaming may lift all boats when it comes to overall music industry revenue, but it also appears to constrict the basic idea of music ownership. On Wednesday, Billboard reported that Amazon Music is phasing out the option for users to upload their own .mp3s—basically, any music they didn’t purchase through Amazon—to its cloud storage platform. Amazon first announced the change on its website on Monday.
That means that if you use Amazon Music, you won’t be able to store or listen to any songs you imported to the service from your own library past January 2019. Paid subscribers—who previously could upload up to 250,000 of their own songs—will still retain access to their imported music until then, but then all but 250 of their songs will be deleted, and they’ll only be able to listen to those for another year on the service. As of this week, free users can’t upload any more music, and can only play whatever they have imported until January 2019.
One might wonder why Amazon removing this (potentially niche) feature, and the answer is Alexa. Well, not just Alexa, but the Echo, the Dot, and essentially all of Amazon’s voice-powered devices, because the default music player on those Amazon devices is Amazon Music. The company would rather you subscribe to its own streaming service and listen to music there than use your own music, because that doesn’t feed into its own ecosystem.
Of course, allowing users to only listening to music purchased from Amazon probably also sits well with major labels and record execs, who would enjoy knowing they’re getting a royalty check when you listen to that Katy Perry song you bought and streamed on the service, which wouldn’t happen if you’re just listening to your own .mp3.
Now, that is a bleak world, where one must only engage with the Amazon behemoth to listen to your music—but that reality also won’t stop with Bezos. Apple is potentially eliminating its iTunes store, and that could create a similar issues for those who enjoy owning music that was purchased outside the realm of major tech companies.
We reached to Amazon for comment and will update with any additional information.