Google on Wednesday took the wraps off a new and improved music service. Building onto “Music Beta by Google,” Google has launched Google Music, a publicly available cloud-based music services that will be free to users in the United States. Google Music users can add up to 20,000 songs from their local libraries to the cloud and stream them to any number of supported devices over the Internet. “Pinned” albums and songs are downloaded to devices and cached for local playback without the need for an Internet connection. Read on for more.
The service is integrated with the Android Market, allowing users to purchase 320Kbps songs from within the Market starting at $0.99 a track. Features include a curated music section, a recommendation engine, a name-your-own-price self-managed “artist hub” for independent artists, integration with YouTube for artists, music playback from within the Market, auto-transfer of purchases to your online locker, carrier billing (T-Mobile will soon become the first carrier to support carrier billing) and several sharing features that are integrated with Google+, Google’s new social network. Purchased tracks that are shared with users via Google+ can be played once for free, and then users can click through to purchase tracks they want to buy.
In an interesting twist, Google worked with artists including The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, Shakira and Busta Rhymes to offer tracks and live albums that are exclusive to Google Music and unavailable anywhere else.
EMI Music, Universal, Sony Music Entertainment and 23 independent labels have signed on as content partners. The new enhanced Google Music service is available immediately online, and updated Google Music apps will trickle out to phones and tablets in the coming days.