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Mark Mulligan:
So with all the expectation surrounding Google’s move into music why is this all they have come to market with? Google lay the blame firmly at the feet of the labels.

Google’s director of content partnerships Zahavah Levine told Billboard ”…a couple of major labels were less focused on innovation and more on demanding unreasonable and unsustainable business terms.”

Of course Google’s #1 aim for their music offering is to help grow the Android OS platform and in turn to help sell Android devices. Thus, just as Apple launched iTunes with ‘Rip, Mix, Burn’ this is just a step on the journey (in fact there are some cool features in the player such as recommendations based on audio signal characteristics of songs).

But the problem for consumers is that they are effectively being forced to choose between licensed streaming music services (Rhapsody, rdio, Spotify, MOG, Napster etc.) and locker services such as Amazon and Google’s. The simple fact is that both should be part of a combined user experience…

Proving unable to come to an agreement with all the major labels for the music service it originally wanted, Google is going to pull an Amazon and unveil a digital music locker service without any licensing deals at all during a keynote tomorrow (May 10) at its I/O conference in San Francisco, Google execs tell Billboard.

Called Music Beta by Google, the service will allow users to upload their music library to a personal online storage locker, from where they can stream and download files from Internet connected devices.

This is virtually identical to Amazon’s Cloud Drive, with a few differences. Most notably, the service is available on a limited, invite-only basis limited to U.S. users. Those wanting to use the service will have to request an invite at, with priority given to those with the Motorola Xoom tablet and to attendees of the I/O conference. Additionally, Google is limiting the number of songs that can be uploaded to the music locker to 20,000. The service is free while in beta, and the company would not comment on what future pricing options it may have planned.

Clearly, this is not the music service Google wanted to offer…

Flashback: Moscone Center, San Francisco. Google’s Vic Gundotra is pacing the stage, rolling off one new awesome Android feature after another. There’s Fro Yo, the new version of Android that does laps (literally) around iOS. And then for a real a-ha moment: a sneak peek at Google Music, a service that would let you purchase songs from your desktop and ‘push’ them to your phone wirelessly, among other things. It was billed as a preview and no firm date was given, but nobody guessed we’d be waiting for a full year. But there were delays, deals didn’t get worked out, and Google was beaten to the punch by Amazon’s Cloud Drive, which launched in March.

This evening the WSJ reported that after a year of (failed) discussions with the labels Google will finally be launching a music service tomorrow at Google I/O — and it’s very similar to Amazon’s, which also doesn’t have approval from the labels. I spoke with Google’s Jamie Rosenberg, head of digital content and strategy for Android, who confirmed the news. And while he says that Google will improve on Amazon’s offering in many ways, one month from now I’m guessing it will look significantly less impressive.

First, the basics.

As with Amazon Cloud Drive, Google’s music service will work by uploading your music library to servers, then streaming that music to whatever PC or Android device you’d like, giving you instant access to your library whenever you have an Internet connection. Uploads will be handled by a small downloadable client available for both PC and Mac. There will be a Flash-based web player (which will work with ChromeOS), and the music service is baked into the Music application on Android versions 2.2 and higher, which can also store songs locally. It’s invite only for now — Google I/O attendees will get an invite, as will users with the Verizon version of the Xoom. Google isn’t talking pricing, but the initial test will store up to 20,000 songs for free (Rosenberg says the limit is based on number of songs, not gigabytes).

It sounds good on paper, but there are a few hurdles…

Wall Street Journal:
“Unfortunately, a couple of the major labels were less focused on the innovative vision that we put forward, and more interested in in an unreasonable and unsustainable set of business terms,” says Jamie Rosenberg, who oversees digital content and strategy for Google’s Android platform.

The lack of licenses means that Google’s music service won’t have at least one thing that Amazon already has: The ability to sell songs to consumers.

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