updated 11:05 am EST, Wed February 6, 2008
Google China Music Deal
Google is crafting a deal that would allow free, official music downloads in China, says a report today by the Wall Street Journal. Claiming only to know sources "close to the situation," the paper states that a Chinese online music agency is involved in a joint venture with Google's Chinese branch Guge to offer music from three major international labels as well as a larger collection of independents. How the service will remain free is unknown, although past approaches have often relied on advertising either through a download website or embedded in the tracks themselves to subsidize the song prices.
This music service is in the "late planning stages" and could be ready to launch within the next several weeks, the paper says. A near-term launch would preempt the appearance many major international music stores, many of which so far have no presences or official partnerships in China. Piracy is frequently cited as a common concern of music providers in the territory.
Google's effort is portrayed by the alleged insiders as an effort to improve its standing among search engines in the southeast Asian country, which is significant but suffers compared to China-born efforts such as Baidu.