Google’s long talked-about and rumored music store is finally online on the web and on Android devices.
Google Music is the combination of both the new music store and the music storage service that was previously called Music Beta from Google. Starting now Google Music is available to anyone who wants to try it. The music storage is free up to 20,000 songs, no matter their length, bit-rate, or file size. The music store is now available on the web through the Android Market website, and will be in the Google Market app on devices sometimes within the next few days. The music store will work just like any other music store, but will sell MP3s encoded at 320kbps, which is a step up from both iTunes and Amazon.
As another step up from iTunes and Amazon, Google is leveraging Google+ to let users share music they buy from Google. After you buy a song or album from Google, you can share that with your Google+ followers who then get the chance to listen to the song or album for free. Not just a 90 second preview like in the store, your friends can listen to the full song or album for free. It might not be as big as the Spotify/MOG/Rdio and Facebook integration, but it’s a start, assuming people actually use it.
The Google Music store launches with music from Universal, EMI, and Sony, along with a collection of indie labels and distributors. Eventually that’ll mean the store will have over 13 million songs available, though for now there are 8 million as Google keeps adding the rest. There’s also some exclusive music from bands like The Rolling Stones who will release music from six previously unreleased concerts, Coldplay who released a 5 track LP from it’s recent Madrid show on the service and Busta Rhymes who will debut his new album on Google Music. There’s also some free live albums on the service from bands like Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, and Shakira.
Google also wants to help out independent artists by giving them an easy way connect with fans with Artist Hub. Artist Hub will help bands set up pages just like major artists have for a one-time fee of $25 if Google didn’t already know about them. From there the bands can upload their songs and albums for free, and charge their own prices for the content. They can release demos or live recordings for free while charging relatively low prices for everything else, or any other combination the band wants. The artists get to keep 70% of the sales, with the remaining 30% going to Google, a ratio developers are already very familiar with.