To virtually no one’s surprise, Google today announced the launch of a digital music store that integrates with its existing cloud-based music storage locker. And that locker service is officially out of beta with today’s announcement.
The Google Music Store exists in the Android Market alongside app, book and movie stores. It’s available in the US only.
On the surface, it looks and seems to function much like Apple’s iTunes Music Store and Amazon’s MP3 store: Songs are priced from 99 cents to $1.29, there’s biographical info about artists and reviews from listeners.
Purchased songs will be placed immediately in the music storage locker, which allows up to 20,000 songs to be stored for free.
Google’s music store has more than 13 million songs, but it’s lacking one of the major labels: Warner Music. The other majors are there; Universal, Sony and EMI — along with lots of independent labels and artists. But without Warner, Google’s store is missing big sellers like Rush, Frank Sinatra, Nickelback, R.E.M., Michael Bublé, Blake Shelton, Green Day, Lenny Kravitz, and Metallica.
What’s Different About Google Music?
For all its similarities to the iTunes and Amazon music stores, Google is trying to differentiate with a couple features:
Google+ sharing:After buying a song, the user can share it with friends via Google+. Friends can listen to the full song one time for free. See our companion story about this, The Confusing World Of Sharing Songs From Google Music To Google+.
Artist hubs: Any artist with the rights to sell his/her/their own music can offer songs via a dedicated artist page on Google Music. The songs can be sold at whatever price the artist chooses, including free.
Google is also trying to differentiate with a variety of content, but as Billboard magazine tweeted earlier, a so-called “exclusive” Rolling Stones concert that Google Music is selling for $4.99 has been available on Wolfgang’s Vault for years. And for free. Whoops.
What About Music Search?
Not mentioned in today’s announcement is the search aspect. Google rolled out Music Search 2.0 in late 2009 with great fanfare.
Much like today’s Music Store announcement, part of the old music search experience was Google attempting to help combat piracy by exposing searchers to official music outlets and information. But Google turned off that music search experience earlier this year.
It makes sense that Google’s new foray into music will eventually show up in Google.com search results. But when?