The Google Music Store is finally launching today (US only) after more than a year of negotiations with the record labels. Google barely launched part of the service back in May this year, which only allowed you to upload your own music to the cloud, and listen to it on your Android phone or the web, but the actual store part was lacking, so people couldn't buy songs from Google. That's all changed now with the new announcement.
You can now buy high-quality MP3 tracks that are DRM-free from the Google Music store that is integrated with the Android Market. You'll be able to buy the songs straight from the Market, just like you can buy apps, movies (rentals) or books. There are currently only 3 of the major music labels on board, Universal, EMI and Sony, and so far Warner is staying out. The good news is they have a strong relationship with independent labels, with 23 (and counting) of them joining Google Music.
One of the cool things I really like about Google Music is that it will allow you to share the longs you are listening to on Google+, and your friends can listen to all of them for free, but they can only listen to them once. The feature is cool today, but it would've been so much more amazing if they would've done it before Facebook with Spotify, at least from an announcement point of view. Although, with Facebook's method, you still have to be a paying customer of Spotify or whatever service your friends are using, on top of having a Facebook account, while with Google Music, all you need is a Google+ account.
Free Song of the Day
Not to be confused with the song sharing feature where your friends get to listen to each of your shared songs once, this free song of the day feature is similar to how Amazon gives a free app every day, except Google will offer a free song instead. This could be great for rising artists, as they could get very popular like this, and they have nothing to lose by making their song free for a day.
This brings me to another cool feature for independent artists, that has the potential to help them rise up, without the record labels acting as middlemen. They can go directly to the fans by selling their own songs on their own hub, and they get 70% of the revenue. That's huge and a game changer in the industry. Right now it's the record labels that get 70% from iTunes, and then a very small part of that is given to the artist. This strategy is very similar to the one Amazon is implementing with self-publishing authors. The easier it gets for independent creators to make money without any middlemen, except a technology platform, the better.
Google is really starting to get it. they're starting to understand that to stand up and get people to switch services, you need to have some kind of unique content. This is why they are getting live tracks from The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Shakira, and Dave Matthews Band, and also Busta Rhymes new album exclusively.
Some may say the Google Music store is arriving too late compared to iTunes. That's relevant in a world of iPods. But the iPod market is fading away. Now it's all about smartphones, and Android is on 200 million devices now, and growing by 550,000 per day or about 17 million new devices per month. That's a huge market that iTunes simply can't get inside. So of course Google Music makes sense for all these devices, especially when the app is integrated in the OS from Android 2.2+ and up (with an update).