updated 05:50 pm EST, Wed November 16, 2011
Google Music shop now live to tackle iTunes
Google as expected launched Google Music. The store serves as its own equivalent to iTunes and is available both from the web and from Android devices. The store offers 320Kbps MP3 tracks and a unique Google+ sharing feature that lets users share songs in one-time free listens, including whole albums when sharing to circles.
The store focuses both on curation and through control to artists. Google itself makes recommendations for artists and genres, and it has special video interviews and other features. A Google Music Artists Hub lets the artists themselves post music at their own prices as well as create their own pages. Revenue splitting is similar to iTunes, with Google taking a 30 percent cut.
The store focuses heavily on giveaways: Google is promising a free song a day, starting with David Bowie's "Sound and Vision." It's also promising exclusives, such as a live EP from Coldplay and early access to Busta Rhymes' new album. T-Mobile is a key partner and will be giving away its own free songs through the end of 2011 in addition to what Google offers.
Music on the store currently comes from eight million tracks, with a total of 13 million promised in the next few months. EMI, Sony, and Universal have signed on among majors, while independents like K7, Merge, Naxos, Tunecore, and The Orchard are also onside.
Web access to the store starts immediately. Android devices will get access to the music store within "coming days." Google hasn't yet offered support to any other platform. T-Mobile customers will have the option of billing any songs they get directly to the phone bill instead of using Google Checkout.