After years of discussion and development, Google Music officially hit the streets today. The fact that it is best described as a competitor to iTunes shows how far they may have to go to catch up with Apple, but the fact we even consider them competition is noteworthy too. What other entity could have as much of an impact on the music business?
Google’s ability to merge Search, which already is 10% music based, and their other services such as Gmail, Blogger, Reader and Docs with officially sanctioned music creates a formidable and exciting rivalry, as well as a huge deterrent to piracy. Google says they won’t censor piracy pages in Search, also today, in front of Congress no less! But their self-interest as a music retailer and listening system would naturally seem to take precedence to enabling thieves. But there is also Google’s precious image. My guess is they will consistently rank higher than the lime monkeys, etc.
So far, the beta version worked well for me but has limitations too, such as only being available on Android or relying on uploaded music. But if you were starting a collection today, it’s an equal choice for a consumer – that’s big. The editorial direction of Google Magnifier, the free download page, have included a wide diversity of high-quality independent artists that can help differentiate them from iTunes. Today’s event, including major licensees UMG, EMI and Sony, along with indie giant Merlin, promised live exclusives from the Rolling Stones (six shows!) and other name artists in 2012.
But I have a perfect iTunes library of over 54,000 songs… I hope those Stones shows are easily moved about! Just think of the bonanza UMG, the band and Google have all reaped with the number of searches there will be as they hit their 50th next year. That’s a funnel to reckon with, even for Apple, Facebook/Bing and Amazon.
Good luck Google Music, good luck music business!
UPDATE: Keith Richards speaks about “Brussels Affair,” their exclusive Google Music release: