Reports of a music service from Google have been in the rumor mill since June, but without any useful details on how the so-called Google Music might work. Now, Billboard is citing anonymous sources in a lengthy Google music service tell-all.
Supposedly, the service will provide a la carte music downloads, just like iTunes, but with a batch of online features to sweeten the deal. In addition to downloads, Google users could opt to spend roughly $25 per year for digital locker access, letting them stream or download their libraries on any web-connected device, Billboard says.
But wait, there’s more. Google reportedly wants to let users add their existing libraries to the locker by scanning their hard drives for music, even if it was purchased from another store, ripped from a CD or downloaded illegally. This may require some kind of concession from Google, such as removing peer-to-peer apps from the Android Market or (unlikely) scrubbing peer-to-peer sites from search results. Billboard says Google will also let users stream every unpurchased song on the service once in its entirety, and in 30-second samples thereafter.
So basically, the rumored Google music service is a hybrid of iTunes and Lala, which Apple acquired last year, and then shut down. It’s the total package. But is it likely to launch any time soon? The answer to that question is just as murky as Apple’s own cloud music plans. Billboard says its sources have no idea when or where Google will launch its music service. Licensing, I’m guessing, will take a while.
Reading Billboard’s report, I’m reminded of Google Editions, an e-book store that Google was supposed to launch early this summer. The idea was similar — a cloud storefront and digital reader that would be accessible from any web-connected device — but with the summer winding down, Google Editions is nowhere to be found. Last we heard, the service was preparing to launch next year — in Japan.