Google Music officially launched yesterday evening with a big L.A. party. As with everything new and Google, Music is tightly integrated with Google +. If you buy a song from the Android Market music store, you can share it on your G+ page, and people in your circles can give it one free listen. Nothing really shocking there. Psst: nobody tell Google that Microsoft tried a similar plan with the Zune, and look what happened there.
Google was able to negotiate contracts with three of the four major labels (still working on Warner) as well as some big independents. It's funny to think about Google and the likes of Sony holding hands at the launch party considering what went down earlier in the day with SOPA (see below).
Still, you can upload up to 20,000 songs to the Google Music cloud and get access to them wherever you go. Can you imagine somebody telling you that in 1985? Heck, 1995? iTunes Match, which costs $25 a year and launched earlier this week, will let you store 25,000 and has a completely hands off syncing process. To get your home library on Google's cloud, you'll need to download a bit of software, then upload your songs. Might be something for you to set up and run overnight, so your computer won't be bogged down with uploads while you’re trying to use it for other stuff.
TechCrunch takes on all the quick-to-dismiss haters and likens Google Music to Gmail: "it’s what you’ve already got, except it’s on our servers and you can access it anywhere. Webmail already existed at the time, and Gmail was competitive but hardly a quantum leap. And here’s Music: a locker for the MP3s you have, a simple interface, and a store with more or less the same selection and pricing as everyone else." In other words, stick around, this might just lead to something.
The piece of the pie that really struck me pertained to musicians. For a one-time $25 fee an artist can set up a page to sell his/her music. The artist sets the price, and Google takes a 30% cut. If an artist makes a YouTube video, it's pretty simple to add a link to their Artist Hub page to seal the deal. All in all, it's an interesting proposition for a band who wants to get its name out there, because once the page is set up, the band is search optimized.