Amazon Cloud Music launched without licenses, has record labels fuming

Turns out Amazon might have beaten Apple in the online music locker race by sprinting off the blocks well before the whistle was ever blown, at least if the stunned reactions by music labels are to be believed. Reuters reports:

Music labels were informed of the plans last week. Only later did Amazon address the issue of negotiating licenses, one source close to the discussions said. That executive called the move "somewhat stunning" and noted that some within the media industry said the service might be illegal.

"I've never seen a company of their size make an announcement, launch a service and simultaneously say they're trying to get licenses," said the executive, who requested anonymity because the discussions were not public.

I'm no proponent of the music labels, their myopic view of technology, their contempt for their own consumers, and their constant attempts to make us pay over and over again for the same content, but this might just explain how Amazon was able to launch so quickly. If Apple, Google and others are waiting to get licenses -- or have been waiting for months or years -- Amazon going without them is certainly a head start.

Ironically, the music industry has given Amazon head starts in the past -- including early access to DRM-free songs and cheaper price-points -- in order to bolster competition and try to reduce iTunes' market share. That they didn't this time is interesting, as will be the record labels' response.

Whether you agree with the music industry's position or not (and personally I hope they continue sinking into the same Jurassic tar pit their dinosaur brethren did eons ago), does the lack of proper licensing -- and any uncertainty it might create -- change the likelihood of you using Amazon's new cloud music service?

[Yahoo!]