Google on Wednesday announced its long-awaited cloud-based music storage service, the unimaginatively but aptly titled “Google Music,” is now live for all users in the United States, following six months of beta testing.
The service, available at music.google.com, allows users to store up to 20,000 songs online for free and listen to them on any computer or Android device running Android version 2.2 or higher. Users can upload songs they already own using Google Music Manager (even uploading iTunes songs!) or buy them from the Android Market’s new Music section, which will include 8 million tracks at launch and 13 million tracks eventually, the Verge reported.
All the tracks available are MP3s at 320Kbps quality, with 90 second previews, the Next Web reported.
Some of the music will be exclusive to Google Music, including new songs from Coldplay, Shakira, Peral Jam and Dave Matthews Band. Busta Rhymes is reportedly debuting his next album on the platform, and the Rolling Stones will be releasing previously unseen concert recordings.
There will be a “Google Artist of the Week” section, with featured artists selected by Google.
Google Music is also seamlessly integrated with Google Plus, allowing users to share tracks they are currently listening to with their friends in specific “Circles,” (Google Plus’s friends lists).
Perhaps most interesting, the service will allow artists to create their own artist pages and upload songs and videos, setting their own prices. Right now, most songs range between $0.99 and $1.29, the Verge reported.
Google launched the service in conjunction with over 1,000 record labels, including some of the world’s largest: Sony, EMI and Universal, the Verge reported. More partners are said to be on the way.
It’s difficult not to look at the new Google Music as a direct counter-offensive against Apple’s iTunes Match cloud-based music streaming service, which launched Monday for $25-a-year but allows users to upload 25,000 songs to the cloud for streaming on all of their Apple devices.
Still, with the service so new, it remains to be seen whether it will catch on in quite the way that iTunes has. But with Android accounting for 52.5 percent of smartphone sales in the third quarter, according to Gartner, it’s a given that Google Music will be a chart-topping hit.