updated 08:25 am EDT, Mon October 24, 2011
Google music shop may be days away
A handful of more details about Google's music store may have emerged on Monday. The service is now thought by unofficial WSJ sources to be going live within the next two weeks, and possibly this week. "At least two" major labels are unlikely to have signed on, however, with only EMI probably onboard and Universal in discussions that might not make the release date.
Independent labels are still the ones most likely to sign on. The rumors had Sony and Warner both anxious about preconceptions about piracy on the combination of a music locker and a store. Sony reportedly believes that the locker would greenlight piracy by not making distinctions between paid and unpaid tracks, even though some of the tracks could be paid songs from other stores.
Warner, meanwhile, just sees the locker as a revenue opportunity, giving it a chance to charge again to have streaming access online. Google has been trying to cast the locker as an incentive for the paid downloads, which themselves would likely confirm to the 99-cent standard. Variable pricing is likely given that other stores have been asked to do the same.
The store's unique sharing system would go through Google+. Those given sharing access to a song would get at least one full listen for free.
Google has been working on plans for a music store since at least spring 2010, when it gave clues to a music service during the Google I/O conference. The company is known to be eager to have an equivalent to iTunes for Android users but, because of its trouble negotiating with labels, has not only gone without a store but has seen Apple create a fuller ecosystem. Google's store may be intentionally rushed to beat iTunes Match, although its free model for the locker may still force listeners to upload their own tracks. iTunes Match, due at the end of this month, will skip uploads for any track it recognizes in its library.