Google is the next digital giant to enter the highly competitive music market as the company is set to present digital music locker service without any licensing deals at all. This comes as a result of failed negotiations with all the major labels.
Music Beta by Google will enable users to upload their music library to a personal online storage locker, from where they can stream and download files from internet-connected devices. Thus, the service draws parallels to Amazon's recently launched Cloud Drive. However, Music Beta by Google will be available on a limited, invite-only basis limited to U.S. users. In addition, Google is limiting the number of songs that can be uploaded to the music locker to 20,000. While the service is free at the moment, potential prizing options in the future have yet to be seen.
Google director of content partnerships Zahavah Levine commented the arduous, and marginally dissatisfying negotiation rounds with the major labels.
"We've been in negotiations with the industry for a different set of features, with mixed results. [But] a couple of major labels were less focused on innovation and more on demanding unreasonable and unsustainable business terms."
However, Levine stated that features could be added to the service over time, and the company will seek an adequate approach to the labels regarding licenses.
"A large segment of the music industry worked cooperatively and was extremely helpful sorting out the issues of online licensing. We certainly remain open to partnerships with the music industry for new features and functionality. This is the beginning of what we hope will be a long relationship with music and users and helping users engage with music and artist and fans."
Google further plans to launch its new music player app today which will be targeted at Android devices, and will allow to play any music stored on them but can't access music from the cloud unless users are part of the beta.
Here is a short list of some of the features Music Beta by Google will offer:
-- Any Web-connected device with a browser or supporting Flash can stream music from the locker. Requires Android-powered devices with the app installed to download and play cached streams.
-- Users who sign up for the locker service will get free music added, similar to how some mp3 players ship with sample tracks. Google negotiated rights to this free music with various rightsholders.
-- All music available to each device is available in a single view, meaning users won't see one list for music stored native on the device and another list of music stored in the locker.
-- Audio quality for streaming files can be as high as 320kbps if the device and network supports it.
-- Optimized for Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) but any Android device version 2.2 or above can support it.
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