Google Music launches, looks to overcome any consequence of being late to the party

Google Music launches, looks to overcome any consequence of being late to the party

I don’t need to give you examples illustrating just how downright creepy it is that Google seems to have their hand in damn near everything these days. I don’t think it would be a stretch to predict that in 10 years, they’ll somehow, vicariously, own your computer, as well as the majority of the internet. If, through completely legal means, they suspect that you’re spending an unacceptable amount of time perusing sites or using software unaffiliated with Google, they’ll send their Gestapo-like army of Google Street View drivers through your neighborhood at constant, yet entirely irregular intervals, with the unwavering goal of catching you on camera in decidedly compromising situations. Before that point, however, it’s only natural that Google attempt to earn some sway in the realm of digital music, which is exactly what they’re doing with the recent launch of Google Music out of the beta stage.

It would be a mistake to consider Google Music a bonafide competitor with Apple’s obscenely prosperous iTunes Music Store. With the tagline “Set your music free,” you get an immediate sense of just what Google intends to be the primary focus of their new service: free storage of up to 20,000 songs, which you can then stream on all platforms, including iOS. Unlike other cloud-based storage services, the only restriction is based on the number of songs (20,000), and not actual storage space. What this means is that the overwhelming majority of us will be able to upload our entire libraries without regard to the size of the audio files themselves. According to ZDNet, supported file types include FLAC, Mp3, AAC, and Ogg, and once uploaded using Google’s Music Manager, the non-Mp3s are then transcoded into Google Music’s default 320 Kbps MPS format.

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that Google Music does have indeed have an associated music store located through Android Market. According to PCWorld, Google has struck deals with three out of the Big Four record labels: Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and EMI Music, with the smaller Warner Music Group being the lone exception. More relevant to readers of TMT, they’ve also apparently settled terms with more than 1,000 independent record labels and distributors. And yet, as far as I’ve gathered, both the iTunes Store and Amazon Mp3 have more than their fair share of independent content, so it’s unclear if this puts Google Music to any sort of advantage. In terms of sheer numbers, it almost certainly hasn’t so far — Google Music currently offers more than 13 million tracks across the spectrum of major and independent labels, while the iTunes Store and Amazon Mp3 contain over 20 million and over 17 million songs in their respective catalogs.

A final feature of note is Google Music’s Artist Hub. As PCWorld points out, artists of all stripes — independent and signed, acoustic and electric, bearded and non-bearded — can “build their own artist page, upload original songs, set their own prices, and sell content directly to fans.” Artists pay a one-time $25 registration fee and keep 70% of sales of individual songs or full albums.

The whole of Google Music appears tightly integrated with Google+, so those (very) few of you who are actively engaged with that aspect of the Google universe will likely see even greater benefit out of using their music service. For me, personally, being able to store up to 20,000 songs sounds pretty kick-ass on its own.

• Google Music:

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