Google has finally launched its very own alternative to iTunes, but be wanred, if you live outside of the US, you just won’t be able to access Google Music.
It was back in May at the Google I/O conference where Music Beta By Google was launched, giving people restricted access to the online streaming service, but without the ability to purchase any new music.
Now however the fully fledged service is available to everyone in the US and it's free. The service will allow you to upload your music library, (up to a maximum of 20,000 tracks) to the cloud and access it wherever you are on your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. An option to choose some of your music to listen to offline is also included.
Of course there is now also the ability to purchase music from Google and at the launch event, the company announced that it has signed agreements with three of the big four record labels – Universal Sony and EMI - but Warner Music is for now still outside the fold.
The reason Google Music is not available outside the US is simply because Google has yet to agree terms with the record labels for these territories. Google has added a new music store in Android Market and once purchased the tracks will be automatically added to your Google Music Library.
Tracks in the Google Music store will cost 69c, 99c or $1.29 and will be available in MP3 format encoded at 320Kbps - which is higher than either of the iTunes options of 192Kbps or 256Kbps. These prices match up with what iTunes offers but without Warner Music there will be a large hole in the Google catalogue.
There will however be exclusive content within Google Music from the likes of Coldplay, Busta Rhymes, the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews Band.
Of course Google has also included a social aspect to its Music service, tying in with its Google network, people will be able to share music on their streams and friends will be able to preview the tracks once for free.
iTunes also has a social aspect, called Ping, but this has failed to gain any traction since launching in September 2010. Facebook and Spotify have also come together to offer this type of social music sharing.
Apple’s iTunes Match service which was launched last week, again only in the US, offers similar services but doesn’t require users to upload all their music to the cloud, instead identifying the songs on a user's device and ‘matching’ them in an online library.
The iTunes Match service costs $25 dollars a year and Google’s director of digital content for Android, Jamie Rosenberg, had a bit of a dig at this, saying: "Other cloud music services think you have to pay to listen to music you already own. We don't."
Finally, Google has added an Artist Hub which will let musicians and bands (with the necessary rights of course) build their own artist page and distribute their own music at whatever prices they want and also interact with fans.Google Music will work on any Android device running Android 2.2 or higher and so far we have heard nothing about the service coming to the UK, but hopefully Google will sort out the agreements with the record labels sooner rather than later.
What do you think about Google Music? Is it a real rival for iTunes or Spotify or is it just too little too late for Google?
Source: Google Music