Update: Music Beta by Google is official. See the video embedded in the original post below for the ins and outs.
For months Google has been putting the finishing touches on a “cloud” music service that will allow users to put their own music collections online, much like Amazon’s Cloud Player. Apple is also working on such a project. Unlike Apple and Amazon, Google was unable to negotiate a deal with any of the major record companies, which one Google executive described as “less focused on the innovative vision that we put forward, and more interested in an unreasonable and unsustainable set of business terms.”
Google plans to compensate, reports Peter Kafka (see below), by offering to host 20,000 songs for free (Amazon offers much less space gratis) and some unique features.
The record companies reportedly weren’t thrilled with Amazon’s little bombshell, which launched at the end of March, but previous deals allow Amazon to sell music directly to consumers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is planning a “much more robust online music service,” but it now appears that Cupertino will be third out of the gate.
Google’s announcement was expected Tuesday as the company kicks off its annual I/O conference. Early reports say Google Music, much like other Google products, will be rolled out in beta to an invitation-only crowd with rapid expansion in mind.
Unfortunately, Google says it had to shelve its more ambitious plans, and there’s reason to believe Amazon has allowed its Cloud Player to stagnate rather than further alienate the record labels.
There’s a reason people steal music, and it’s not just because they can get it free that way. Even giant corporations like Google and Amazon can’t get the music industry to sell its product in an innovative and consumer-friendly way. —PZS
All Things Digital:
Google Music will roughly mirror what Amazon showed off in March: A service that loads copies of music that users already own into an Internet-based server, which lets them stream the songs over the Web and onto Android phones and tablets. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Google’s plans.
Google has originally planned a more robust version of the concept, which it was going to introduce with cooperation from the labels. But as I reported last month, talks between Google and the labels, which started a year ago, have hit an impasse, and Google has apparently decided that it would rather launch a reduced version of a music service than none at all.
“Unfortunately, a couple of the major labels were less focused on the innovative vision that we put forward, and more interested in in an unreasonable and unsustainable set of business terms,” says Jamie Rosenberg, who oversees digital content and strategy for Google’s Android platform.