2011 was the first year where my music listening was driven completely from the cloud. This is a milestone for me; in the past I’ve always had some physical component to the music I owned, whether it be an MP3 or a CD. For someone who’s first music was on a cassette tape, this is the future.

I rely on Rdio for most music, and if it is not available there, I buy/download it and then upload it back to Google Music. Google Music has also been good for capturing free mixes or CDs not available online. I haven’t saved a single MP3 to my computer after adopting this hybrid Rdio/Google Music listening system (And in fact, I don’t think I’ve saved any file locally, and only locally, in a long time).

I’m surprised that I’ve settled on this hybrid listening system. I’m a big fan of subscription services, and never bought into Steve Jobs’ claim that “People want to own their music.” But storage services such as Google Music help fill in the blanks when music isn’t available from a subscription service.

Looking towards the future, I hope to see even this subscription/storage split disappear. Right now, music sources are tied directly to music players. I can only listen to Rdio tracks from Rdio’s site/app, same for Google Music (or Spotify or Mog or Pandora or Amazon Cloud Player). I would love to see music move towards a model where audio sources are decoupled from audio players. So I could pick a few songs from Rdio, and few more from Google Music, and send them to any player (car, phone, home stereo) without using siloed apps. This would help fulfill the dream of all music, everywhere. Screw world peace, that’s my wish for 2012.