updated 05:40 pm EDT, Wed October 19, 2011
Google Music may go without major labels
Google's tentative music store plans may be launched with just a fraction of the music that Apple and Amazon have, music insiders divulged on Wednesday. In continuing its deadlock with majors, the search firm was reported by CNET as being willing to limit its music catalog to just independent labels. Only "close to a dozen" have signed on, the industry contacts said, and would leave all sides upset at the lost opportunity for sales and recognition.
EMI may be the only major willing to sign on. The label has usually been one of the first to strike forward-thinking music deals and agreed to DRM-free music with Apple at a time when rivals were still nervous.
While the major labels want Google to pay like Apple for streaming music they've already purchased, Google has so far rejected the idea. It launched Music Beta without a store as it decided it would rather leave users to upload the music themselves than pay for rights it believes are unnecessary. Labels are commonly thought to be staying in talks in hopes Google will become an alternative to Apple's dominance of Internet music, albeit only on their terms.
The special feature that Google's mobile VP Andy Rubin suggested earlier might modest. It could be a unique form of free if limited song gifting between fellow Google Music members, the insiders said. Under the strategy, users could share a song that would be listenable once for free for everyone. A song could only be shared twice this way, however, to prevent abuse.
Its feature is new to the negotiations and might not be included in the final launch.
Whatever the final service, Google may be trying to rush the store solely to beat Apple. The sources understood it wanted the store to open before all iCloud features could go live. With the only remaining piece being iTunes Match due in two weeks, however, it might miss that opportunity and would still lag behind in features and selection.
Google may be looking for one of the last pieces of its Android media strategy. Amazon MP3 is often considered the unofficial Android music store but, because it's not default and isn't available outside of the US, has limited reach. The firm has lately been taking to opening its own stores when it sees a void, such as YouTube movie and TV show rentals and sales as well as its earlier bookstore.