Google Inc. is reportedly gearing up to launch a music downloading service sometime in the next two weeks that it will link to its Google+ social network.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the application - currently referred to as Google Music - will be an extension of Google Music Beta, a free service that allows users to store their existing music collection in the cloud. Users can access their music wirelessly from any computer or Android device and even access their most recently played songs when not connected to the Internet. Google Music will allow users to begin purchasing new music for download for an average price tag of $.99 per song. Google hopes to drive sales through the incorporation of Google+; users who link to their profiles can recommend songs to friends, who will be able to listen to the songs once for free before purchasing them.
However, this is all provided that Google can secure licensing agreements with the companies controlling the majority of the music customers will be looking for - or, barring that, the search giant elects to chance the riskier route of launching without a full repertoire of music. Right now, it's looking as though EMI Group was the only one of the four biggest music labels - the other three being Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group - that would have come to an agreement with Google in time for the launch. Whether Google will postpone or not remains to be seen.
Facebook, Google's main competitor in the social network arena, has already begun laying its own foundations in music sales. Spotify, a shared music network, will soon require new users to create Spotify accounts through Facebook, and will begin charging a $5 per month fee to computer users and $10 fee to mobile users after their initial 6-month trial subscription expires. iTunes, currently enjoying a comfortable lead in music download market share, will begin implementing its own cloud-based music cataloging and storage service - iTunes Match - for a subscription fee of $25 a year.