A number of sources have been quoting “leaks from music companies” as saying that Google has been in active negotiations with the four major music production firms. Supposedly, only the smallest of these, EMI Group, has inked a deal with the search company. Some observers believe that Google will launch their service in a matter of weeks even if they EMI Group as their only partner initially.
The New York Times notes that Google most likely plans to link it to Music Beta, the company’s existing cloud service. For those of you not familiar with it, Music Beta lets users create a music locker of sorts in the cloud that can hold up to 20,000 songs. Users can then stream these tunes to their mobile phones and other devices.
Potential piracy stands as one of the obstacles Google needs to overcome to convince music companies to sign on. The Times quoted one senior music company executive as saying that “We want to make sure the locker doesn’t become a bastion of piracy.” Without the help of the major music companies, Google’s new service could become much less convenient than either Amazon’s or Apple’s.
Someone using a cloud-based music service needs to get their music in the cloud – that is, onto the remote servers. Uploading an entire music collection over the Internet from one computer onto remote servers can take many hours or even days. During this time, the personal system’s performance might be affected. If, however, the music service holds licensing agreements with the major music companies, there’s no uploading required; the user can simply tap into the central repository of music already on the remote servers to listen to copies of the tunes they own. That makes the service much less of a hassle for the user; it’s less time- and resource-consuming to get started. This is one reason it’s so important to Google to get those deals in place.
The other reason, of course, is that both Amazon and Apple have made license deals with the major music companies, which would give them a strategic advantage over Google if the search giant fails to come to the agreements it needs. This must be particularly frustrating at the Googleplex, as the company is rumored to have been working on a music service like this for more than a year.
Once the service is in place, Google could take it in many directions. For instance, they might add a merchant service similar to YouTube’s new “Merch” service reported by the Daily Mail . They could include the new service as part of an Android update, such as the one named Ice Cream Sandwich scheduled for later this week. It could even become a special feature of Google Plus.
But can Google make a new music service work in the face of such strong competition? Success in one area doesn’t always translate well to other areas, as we’ve seen in the past with a number of Google flops. Motley Fool even lists five reasons they believe the yet-to-be-revealed new music service will flop. The analyst company cites everything from Google not playing nice with the record labels to heavy competition from Amazon and Apple (that shut even Wal-Mart out of the market) to Google’s own lack of patience as reasons the music service will fail. On the other hand, we’ve also seen Google succeed against larger, more entrenched rivals. We’ll have to wait to see how this one plays out.