Google launched Google Music on Tuesday – its free online music service that will let users upload 20,000 songs from their current libraries and purchase new music from Google. That music can be stored on Google’s services and accessed by a variety of devices, including Android-based phones, tablets, and other computers.
The new service is clearly Google’s answer to Apple’s iTunes Match – iTunes with iCloud storage – and builds on Google’s Music Beta service by allowing users to purchase new songs. Google has partnered with EMI, Universal, and Sony, as well as dozens of smaller independent labels, to offer thirteen million songs on its debut, although only in the US. Warner is the only one of the big four record companies not involved.
The record companies appear to be have a little more latitude in setting their prices. Tracks are available in the store for $0.69, $0.99, and $1.29.
T-Mobile – the one remaining major carrier in the U.S. that isn’t selling Apple’s iPhone – will be able to accept payments from its customers on their monthly phone bills, for songs purchased from Google Music.
Google also sees an opportunity for smaller bands to use Google Music as a tool to promote themselves with a feature called Artist Hub. Bands can set up an artist page for $25, where they can post a biography, pictures, links, and actually sell their songs through Google Music, with Google taking a 30% cut.
Google is also helping its Google+ social network users to “spread the word”. When Google+ users share their music purchases it will allow their Google+ friends to play the track once for free.