Google just took the wraps off its new music store, which the company has been hinting at for more than 18 months now.
This could create some logistical nightmares for Google: it will have to deal with customer support issues from potentially millions of musicians, including things like copyright (say a band uploads an unauthorised cover version or a recording that they didn’t even make) and fraud (where scammers use stolen credit cards to “buy” millions of copies of a song they uploaded themselves).
But on the whole, it’s a pretty bold move in favour of independent artists.
Here are the details:
- Songs will be available through the Android Market. The entire service will also be on the Web at music.google.com.
- Users can share songs via Google+. As we previously reported, any purchased song can be shared with an unlimited number of connections via Google+. All shared songs can be played at least once for free, and indie artists can also grant additional free plays. (Note: sharing doesn’t work with songs uploaded from your personal collection.)
- All purchases are stored in the cloud. All songs are stored in the Google Music database, where users can also upload up to 20,000 tracks from their own collection. (This feature has been available since May as part of the Google Music beta.) Then, users can stream these purchases to up to 10 devices.
- Redownloading is now supported. Before, once songs were up in the cloud, users could only stream them to devices. Now, they can redownload them — nice in case of hard drive crashes, for instance.
- Warner is not included. EMI, Sony, and Universal — three of the big four labels — are included. There are also a lot of indies including Merlin (an aggregator representing thousands of labels around the world) and Beggars’ Banquet. The store will have 13 million tracks at launch.
- Self-released artists can upload their own music. Artists can pay a $25 one-time fee to submit their music to the store through the Artist Hub. There, they can create an artist page, upload content to sell, and set pricing. Google takes a 30% cut of each sale, just like iTunes, but there’s no recurring fee.
- T-Mobile customers can pay for songs on their phone bills. This kind of carrier billing makes perfect sense for a SUBSCRIPTION service, but is kind of a strange feature here. But it will let customers with no credit cards buy music. That’s great for T-Mobile and Google, not so good for the parents of teenagers who are still on their cell phone plans.
There are also going to be some exclusives at launch, including live concerts from the Rolling Stones and new tracks from Coldplay.
The updated service is available on the Web now, and will be coming to Android devices in coming days.
Update: Here’s Google’s official blog post announcing the service, and a video in which a bunch of indie artists explain why it’s so hard to make a living in rock and roll and how Google Music will help:
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