Google Music Takes On iTunes
Complete with the requisite “exclusive offers”, Google announced last week that its Music program was graduating from beta. Google Music is now public and in business in the Android marketplace.
Now, in addition to being able to upload their own music to Google servers, users of Google Music will be able to purchase songs directly from Google and then share one free listen on Google+. The company advertised 13 million tracks from three major record labels and a plethora of indie labels. It highlighted exclusive tracks from a wide array of artists including Coldplay, Busta Rhymes, Shakira, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band and Tiësto. A six-part, previously-unreleased concert series kicked off with an offer from The Rolling Stones, Brussel’s Affair (Live, 1973).
Another key offering, and one that in other services attracted both talent and buyers, is the Artist Hub. Google Music will offer artists the opportunity and tools to create artist pages, upload tracks, and manage their own online music stores- all on the Google platform.
Will the lure of exclusive tracks and accessing your music on “any device” be enough to take on iTunes? Apple has had over a decade of market dominance and most of Google offers are either matched or equaled on the iTunes network. Earlier this summer, the Apple service began offering cloud storage and now offers iTunes Match. That service allows users to skip uploading their music to a cloud service and instead access iTunes (better quality) music by checking to see if there’s a “match.” That service costs $25 a year.
Among the advantages Google has over Apple, is its social network and integration with the new music service could be a defining factor. Google+ had a reported 40 million registered users as of this past October. When Apple launched Ping, its music social network, the inability to interact with other existing social networks did not prove worth creating Ping profiles to share and recommend iTunes-purchased tracks.
Additionally, Google Music will allow users to stream their music without syncing. There are already 200 million Android devices activated. Once they download the free Google Music app, will these users switch over entirely?
One key-advantage that iTunes had over Google’s service is its vast library or podcasts, music and video content. While users can currently rent and stream or download movies on YouTube, there is still a huge network exclusively available on iTunes. But, that network requires syncing, downloading and matching. Will Google prove that nothing says "availability" more than "portability"?