updated 04:35 pm EST, Wed November 24, 2010
Google Music talks may push past holidays
Google's music service is still facing troubled negotiations that will probably push its launch into 2011, according to purported insider tips on Wednesday. A conventional per-track deal may be mostly settled, but Google's insistence on a widely rumored online locker for music is still triggering opposition. Labels still want additional payment for artists, the New York Post's contacts claimed, but also note that Google refuses to separate the locker from the regular store.
"What's been holding things up is that the labels will do downloads, but they need to know more about the locker service, and Google really wants to keep the two together," an unnamed music industry veteran reportedly said.
A chance still remained that Google could have a very late launch this year, but an executive added that a late first quarter 2011 launch, or March, was more probable. Warner Music chief Edgar Bronfman, in the same results call that brought a renewed Spotify deal, said he hoped Google's store would come online in 2011.
The lack of results would let Apple sustain its advantage in online music stores for awhile longer but would also reflect an industry-wide difficulty in persuading labels to let users store their content online. Apple has been rumored for much of 2010 to be developing cloud-based iTunes access but hasn't secured licensing deals that the labels feel are necessary. Despite the lockers simply representing the user's own collection on a server, studios have argued that a locker is a shift in formats like cassettes to CDs and thus that they should have a right to charge a second time for a file copy operation.
Google had teased its music service as early as the I/O conference in May and would likely tie it closely to Android. Without a locker option, however, the company is said to be considering Internet radio as a fallback and would be little different than downloading a separate app like Pandora or Slacker.
The search giant wouldn't comment on the rumors.