Google's Music service has been an incomplete experience since its unveiling at Google I/O back in May. While Music Beta does allow you to upload your songs and stream them to your Android device, it lacks any kind of storefront. Google does have a small library of featured free tunes for Music users, but I can't say any of the albums or artists there have ever really interested me too much.

A quick note on the "rumor" status of this post before we actually discuss it - Business Insider was contacted by a music industry insider regarding Google's deal with various labels, and it sounds legit to us. So, we're calling this a "rumor" for safety's sake more than anything.

Google has apparently worked out a deal with the major record labels to do something that no other major online music store has managed, though we're not sure how much more successful their model will be because of it.

Google will operate a normal MP3 music storefront, very similar to Amazon. Combined with Google Music's cloud storage, the two companies would essentially operate the same kind of service. Presumably, Google's Music store would allow you to download hard copies of your purchased music as well. But as Andy Rubin told AllThingsD at AsiaD yesterday, their store would have a "twist."

The twist is sharing. According to BI's source, the sharing will work in a fairly simple manner. If you buy a song (or album, we assume), you can share it with anyone you know that has a Google Music account, and they can then listen to that song for either a limited amount of time (maybe 24 hours) or a pre-determined number of times (eg, 5 playbacks). Record companies have never agreed to something quite like this. While companies like Spotify allow free streaming of songs or a subscription option, and therefore allow users to share songs with one another, as far as we're aware a sharing feature like the one Google Music will have has never been tried on any large scale before.

Will it be a success? That's a tough question to answer. The record companies have obviously bought into some kind of argument that allowing users to share tracks they like with one another will create incentive for them to purchase the music once the limited share "license" on a track expires, and I can see where Google would be coming from on that point. In fact, this could have a very large rate of success for single track sales in particular, which as iTunes showed us so long ago, is something that consumers like. Paying $0.99 for a single track is something someone is a lot less likely to weigh costs and benefits of as opposed to a $15 album.

If Google can integrate the "share" feature seamlessly into the Music app for Android in a way that people will actually use, there's a lot of potential here. The problem is the sharing mechanism, though. How would we share? Via e-mail? Via some "friends" feature in Music? Getting the ball rolling may prove difficult for a social feature like this. Google Music is relatively unknown to most people, and I'm willing to bet many Android users (not the kind who are reading this post, mind you) have no idea Google Music even exists. It will be interesting to see how Google works this sharing in practice, because that's probably going to be the "make or break" feature to differentiate Google Music from Amazon MP3.

BI's source also indicated that users will be able to "pin" songs they've purchased to their mobile device, permanently caching them on the phone. Music will, otherwise, simply be streamed whenever it plays back. This is presumably to allow users to amass large collections without worrying about storage space on their devices. If this is the case, then it would follow logically that regular streaming would be at a significantly reduced bitrate by default (anywhere from 48-128kbps, most likely) in order to manage mobile data consumption, similar to streaming apps like Spotify and Pandora.

Google is expected to debut this new Music store by the end of the year.


David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Phil Oakley

    Sounds good. Hope it is also implemented into G+. Something like this would be perfect:

    ___ ___ bought ___ on Google Music.

    ___ ___ and ___ ___ listened to ___ on Google Music.

    • Randy

      Sounds like a great idea! Spam G+ with crap that nobody cares about, the same way people spam Facebook! Can't wait for that implementation!

      • Phil Oakley

        OK then, don't have it on the stream. Have it on the profile page of the user. I agree, I hate the way that Facebook does it, and maybe I didn't explain this right. Have it on a separate tab maybe. I don't know. But I'd like to know if one of my friends is listening to one of my favourite bands (Muse or Radiohead, for example) and I can listen with them.

        Maybe you could list your favourite bands in Google Music, and it only comes up if one of your friends is listening to one of those bands, and asks if you'd like to listen with them.

        Oh, and there's no need to be sarcastic. Remember, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

    • http://social-catalog.com/samsung-galaxy-note-vs-google-nexus-prime aatif

      Yeah it will be great !!

  • Admodieus

    The sharing mechanism between Android phones will be Android Beam. You can see their entire strategy starting to form.

    • Randy

      I was thinking that too. And since you need a GMail account for your Android device, sharing via email address would be easy too.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/remmbermytitans/ Victor

    I think Google's hardest task, as you pointed out, will be getting the word out. I've mentioned this service to a bunch of my friends and many of them are wary of it, saying that they already use Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Last.fm, and that they can't see themselves using Google Music, let alone having to upload all their music.

    But I trust Google, they'll get it done and it'll probably be the best music service out there and it'll be up to us to get the word out.

    • prem (singapore)

      Totally agree with you. If this is to happen with Apple/Amazon, they would heavily emphazie on how to advertise it to the masses in a stylish manner. If Google can promote this store in a way like they will, im sure it will be a sucess.

  • JLishere

    How songs could be shared with Google Music: Google Plus (user X shared this song with user Y ; clicking on a "Listen" button would instantly add the song to user Y's library), or perhaps, sharing to an entire circle? Or through Hangouts. Android Beam (NFC). Or sharing songs while chatting on Google Talk. Or Youtube? There are so many ways for Google to implement an ubiquitous, easy to use, quick sharing tool.

  • Adriaaaaan

    You guys might be interested to know that the google plus integration has already started as.you profile now appears on the top right. This has only happened in the past few days

  • Kevin

    confused by the statement that this has never been done before. The zune has had this capability for a long time. Never really took though b/c the device didn't have the penetration to make that work; obviously Google is likely to be more successful there. The capability may have dropped off in recent years, but I know they had this about 3 years ago.

    • Mgamerz

      It was also DRM'ed, and everyone HATES the DRM'ed WMA. If you stream it, you don't have to deal with the DRM as much.

      • Chris

        There's still going to be some sort of control involved. Local storage would involve DRM, or Google would have to restrict it to streaming-only, so no listening when not within range of a signal.

    • Chris

      Yeah, I was just about to mention that. Zune had this functionality as well, although I think Google may be taking it a step further in terms of integration, since it's not locked-down to a particular hardware line, unlike Zune.

      • Jaymoon

        Ah yes, Zune squirting!

  • Nick

    I was thinking the exact same thing. Unfortunately, I never knew anyone else who actually owned a Zune, so this feature was a little lost on me.

  • http://MyShocker.com Nudo

    You can already Pin Songs, Artists, and Albums, and Playlists. ... and the other features sound awesome too!!

  • Mohuddin

    I hope we hare via NFC so NFC could become mainstream

  • https://plus.google.com/117702410245683101961/posts Lucian Armasu

    It would've been nice to have a subscription option, too, but I've noticed Google tends to stay away from that sort of thing. Also, I think pretty much all music subscription services are losing money or barely breakeven because the labels charge them too much.

  • Duffin

    Man, I was hoping Google would go with a subscription-based service. I've tried all of them so far and they all fall short in some ways. And now, of course, my most preferred service Napster has been bought by Rhapsody, the company I just dropped! Plus this trend of only having the option to log onto Facebook for these music services is annoying.

  • snapper

    I've already uploaded almost 800 albums to my Google Music account; over 10,000 songs, and I gotta say that the freedom to have my entire CD/MP3 collection with me wherever I go and a couple touches away is enviable to those who have not yet discovered or adopted this feature.

    By the time I finish ripping my CD's I will have close to 15,000 songs on the cloud which I can play from a laptop, android phone or mobile browser... It's definitely a service for audiophile's and geeks.