Google launches music service

Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:09pm EST
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By Lisa Richwine and Alexei Oreskovic

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Google Inc has turned on the music at its new online store, aiming to wrest the lead from Apple Inc and Inc in audio entertainment distribution despite the absence of a major record label.

Google Music, with more 13 million songs, will be integrated with Android Market, the company's online store for smartphone apps and videos as it plays catch-up with its rivals. Apple, Amazon and Facebook have to varying degrees integrated music into their core online and mobile products.

Google Music will allow the Web search leader to do the same by letting consumers access music from various Internet-connected devices and easily share tracks with friends.

But analysts said the lack of soundtracks from Warner Music - a major label whose artists include Led Zeppelin and Prince, among others - will limit the appeal of Google Music.

"They've got to get that catalog filled pretty quickly," said Mike McGuire, an analyst at industry research firm Gartner. "It's a launch, but it's kind of like a work-in-progress."

Google Music was unveiled at a splashy event at the Mr. Brainwash Studios in Hollywood, California on Wednesday.

Google has negotiated U.S. deals with three of the four major music companies: Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group; Sony Corp's Sony Music Entertainment; and EMI. It has also signed deals with the increasingly influential independent label group Merlin and London-based Beggar's Banquet label group, home to the year's biggest selling artist, Adele.

Analysts say selling online music is unlikely to provide much of a lift to Google's revenue. But they say Google needs to be in the market to ensure that its Android-based mobile efforts can match offerings from competitors.   Continued...