Google+ Jumps Into The Music Scene
In the next few weeks Google will take the wraps off its long-planned online music store, a direct competitor with Apple iTunes and Amazon, which have made quiet a bit of cash selling digital music files to media hungry techno-philes. No doubt Google will make good use of its new social media network, Google+ to leverage sales of digital music, and I would expect them to also focus on a lower price point (though that’s just a guess.)
So, what does this mean for you? Well, it depends. If you buy digital music this is good news because it means one more player in the mix. the more players the better the results should be for consumers. The more competition that exists in a marketplace the more likely they are to try and undercut each other when it comes to prices. This is definitely good news for buyers. It might also be good news for members of Google+ who have stated that they see little activity from regular users on the new social media network, and too much activity from marketers.
By making full use of an online music store Google+ could end up looking a little bit more like Last.fm and a little less like a Facebook clone. On Last.fm a social network is formed around the specific musical tastes of users. If I like a particular band, say “Kings of Leon” then I am connected with other people who like “Kings of Leon.” It is possible Google+ will connect the new Google music store users in the same way. Or not. We won’t know for sure until it released in a couple weeks.
One thing does seem certain, however. Despite the fact the number of new Google+ users has dropped off substantially from its peak a month or so ago, Google is definitely not slowing down when it comes to new features. Nor do they seem to be shifting focus away from their fledgling social media network in pursuit of the “next big thing.”
The “little twist” appears to be leveraging the social graph. The store, tentatively named Google Music, will allow the 40 million Google+ users to recommend songs in their digital library to their contacts–those friends will be able to listen to the track once for free, and then purchase the song in the MP3 format, probably for 99 cents each.
Google must secure licensing rights to all songs sold as MP3s and recommended by users. Assuming Google Music goes live within the next few weeks, sources say it is likely Google will have sealed up deals with only two of the four major labels–The Wall Street Journal indicates that only EMI Group is close to finalizing terms, with Universal Music Group also in serious talks. Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group are still in negotiations but far from reaching an agreement.
The four majors together distribute 87 percent of all music sold in the U.S. Their participation is considered essential to the success of any music retail effort or premium digital service. Google nevertheless introduced its Music Beta cloud storage platform without label agreements in place: Music Beta enables consumers to upload and store their digital music collections via the web for streaming playback across Flash-enabled connected devices including Android smartphones and tablets as well as the desktop. Users may store as many as 20,000 songs for free–the service syncs activity on different devices, meaning that playlists created on the user’s smartphone will automatically show up on their computers.
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