After much speculation, Google Music is live and open for business at https://music.google.com. The offering launched yesterday, enticing users with a catalog of 13 million songs comprising tracks from all the major labels except Warner Music Group. There is also free music file storage of up to 20,000 tracks, which can then be streamed on multiple devices.
The Android Market offers songs for about 99 cents – $1.29 each, and albums for about $10, prices comparable to iTunes. There are also hundreds of tracks available for free download.
Google Music debuts with a few advantages over other music services. Users of the company’s social networking component Google+ can share the songs they purchase with friends who can listen to them in full, as opposed to the 30-second snippets offered by iTunes.
The Google Music Artist Hub lets artists build landing pages, upload, stream, and sell music directly fans. There is a one-time set up fee of $25. The act sets their own price and receives 70% of each sale.
One of the biggest advantages in Google’s favor is the prevalence of its Android phones. Google Music integrates with Android, which has about 53% of the smartphone market, according to Gartner. Apple’s iPhone has just 15%. T-Mobile customers with Android phones can buy music and will be charged on their monthly cellphone bills.