At long last, Google has launched its next version of Google Music at a live event in Los Angeles, complete with a music store featuring tunes from three of the four major labels (EMI, Sony and Universal) as well as a cadre of indie labels.
In May, Google unveiled its Google Music Beta, a cloud storage locker for music lovers that let them access their music collections across all devices. At the time, many a music lover was disappointed because the locker lacked a store (presumably because Google could not secure licensing agreements with the labels). Now, that issue has been remedied.
According to Google, more than one million users are already plugged into Google Music Beta, and 100 million free songs have been distributed via Google’s music blog Magnifier, and now that service is available is all users in the U.S. — for free. Yup, users can upload up to 20,000 songs to Google Music free of charge (no one said what will happen after that 20,000-song limit has been reached).
And, here’s the best part, that service will include a store integrated with the Android Market. The Market already included books and movies, and now, it’s got music — 13 million songs to be exact.
The store is designed to help shoppers discover new tunes, according to Google, and includes staff picks, promotions, interviews and recommendations (sourced from your purchases and the contents of your music collection). The store will also feature a new free song every day, hundreds of free tracks to add to your collection and a spotlight artist each week. This week’s artist is Caveman, who you’ll be hearing more about on the O Music Blog soon.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the store is social sharing. Every time you buy a track, you can share it via Google+ as a full-playing stream. The same goes for albums. It’s kind of like how when you listen to music via apps like Spotify, you can share it on Facebook — but completely free for your friends.
In addition to the labels mentioned, Google also worked with individual artists like The Rolling Stones, Busta Rhymes, Shakira, Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews to feature exclusive content.
Starting today, Google Music is open in the U.S. at market.android.com, and over the next few days, Google will roll out the music store to Android Market on devices running Android 2.2 and above.
We’ll have more about Google Music as we have a chance to play around with it. In the meantime, tell us in the comments: Should Apple be scared?
By Brenna Ehrlich