Google launched Google Music to the public today and added music to the Android Market. Users can now visit music.google.com and choose from millions of songs, some available for free, others ranging from $0.69 to $1.29.
Using Google Music itself is free. It’s a ‘locker’ or storage service on a cloud where music can be stored. It’s been in beta, on a invitation only basis, for six months now. With Google Music, up to 20,000 songs can be stored on and streamed from the Google’s Cloud for free. This compares to Apple’s storage service which costs $25/year. Android users can store, stream, download and buy music from Google through the Google Music app. Windows, Mac and Linux users can access those same functions through the Google Music Manager, which can be downloaded from Google.
As for music in the Android Market, songs can be purchased and played immediately through the Google Music app or the Google Music Manager. Google stated that 90 second previews are available. Like with iTunes, users can play the music stored on Google Music through any other device.
While we did find a selection of free songs through the Google Music Manager, downloading free songs does require that a payment method be set up, apparently, as we were unable to download free songs until we gave our credit card number to Google.
In the Google Music launch event, Google stated that songs purchased through them can be shared with other people, on a limited basis, through Google+. This may help Google+ garner a broader user base by encouraging more users to join up.
Google Music will not exactly go head to head with Apple’s iTunes service. At least not in a major way yet. iTunes is geared toward Apple devices and Google Music toward Android, though both do work on Windows. But perhaps, over time, the lines will blur and users will be able to choose between iTunes and Google Music with similar accessibility on either system. Though it could go the other way and the two music systems go proprietary. We’ll have to wait and see how things develop.