Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) launched Google Music, a product that evolved from a storage locker to a streaming music service that lets consumers find, purchase and share more than 13 million songs from record labels Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, as well as more than 1,000 independent labels.
The new play comes after the company launched Google Music Beta last May to let consumers upload up to 20,000 songs formatted in iTunes or Windows to the search provider's cloud for free.
The new service, launched Nov. 16 to U.S. users, automatically syncs users' entire music library across all of their devices from the cloud so users don't have to worry about connecting cables to make uploads or downloads.
Consumers may purchase single songs, ranging from $0.99 to $1.29, or entire albums from their computer, Android smartphone or tablet to instantly add them to their Google Music library.
As a bonus -- and as a way to boost user engagement in its nascent social network -- Google is letting users share one full play of a song they purchased free with their contacts on Google+. Search Engine Land explained how this sharing capability works in detail.
The service pits Google versus streaming music services such as Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes Match, Amazon's Cloud Drive and Player, and Facebook, which integrates with streaming music specialist Spotify.
Google Music is complemented by Google's new music store in the Android Market, where users can currently go to sample free songs and test Google Music if they haven't already signed up for the storage locker. Songs and albums from Dave Matthews Band, The Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Pearl Jam are available.
Warner Music Group, whose artists include Led Zeppelin, Green Day and Death Cab for Cuties, is not on board with this launch. Google failed to come to terms with the company. However, Google has inked deals with independent rights agency Merlin, along with indie labels such as Merge Records, Warp Records and Matador Records.
There is also a Google Music artist hub allows any artist who has all the proper distribution rights can build an artist page, upload original tracks, set prices and sell content directly to fans. Artists who do this will keep 70 percent of their track sales.
"This goes for new artists as well as established independent artists, like Tiesto, who debuts a new single on Google Music today," said Andy Rubin, Google's senior vice president of mobile and the man responsible for striking deals with the record labels.
As a booster, T-Mobile is offering its customers using smartphones and tablets running on Android 2.2 and above free Google Music tunes each week from artisits Drake, Maroon 5, Busta Ryhmes, and others.