Google Music to offer free storage, streaming, social sharing

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Google Inc. announced Wednesday
the launch of a new music service in partnership with three major record
companies, a service that will compete directly with Apple and Amazon
to sell music to consumers and allow them to access songs from any PC or
Android-based mobile device, but goes a step farther by allowing users
to share tracks with friends through the Google social network.

“Google
Music is about discovering, purchasing and sharing music in new,
innovated and personalized ways,” said Jamie Rosenberg, Google’s
director of digital content for Android.

The new
Google Music service will sell individual song downloads for 99 cents
from Google’s Android Market. The service is launching for everyone in
the U.S. today at google.music.com, and will allow Android users to
upload and stream up to 20,000 songs for free from any PC or
Android-based mobile device.

“Other cloud (music) services think you have to pay to listen to music you already own. We don’t,” he added.

Many
observers had expected Google to launch a similar music service at its
annual developers conference back in May. But Google was unable to
obtain the licenses from two of the major recording labels it needed to
sell music online, as Apple does with iTunes, and instead offered a
stripped-down version that allowed users to upload and then stream songs
they have previously purchased to a computer or smartphone.

Google
has grown far beyond its original identity as a search engine that
carried users to the websites of content providers; the Mountain View,
Calif., company is increasingly getting into the direct sale of content.
Google in May began offering Hollywood movies for rent in the Android
Market, with prices starting at $1.99 to stream movies to an Android
smartphone or tablet. Google also has an online electronic book-selling
service.

A music store integrated with the Android
phones and tablets, however, would address perhaps the most glaring gap
between Google’s Android mobile phones and tablets, and Apple’s iPhone
and iPad devices, which allow users to easily download music, video and
other content from iTunes. A music service “was an obvious opportunity
for us,” Rosenberg said in May.

Google will offer 8
million songs in the Android Market from its partnership with Sony
Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and EMI Music, with that
library expected to grow to 13 million tracks in the new few months.

Facebook
in September offered integrations with Spotify and other digital
streaming music services, but Google Music will add a new feature to
Google’s social network by allowing people to share one listen of each
track they buy with their friends on Google .

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©2011 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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