But Google’s service, which will be called Music Beta by Google, doesn’t have the cooperation of record labels—which comes as a bit of a surprise given that Google has spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to negotiate with labels for rights. This means that Music Beta users won’t be able to share or purchase music.
Jamie Rosenberg, director for digital content for Android, explained why negotiations failed. “A couple of major labels were not as collaborative and frankly were demanding a set of business terms that were unreasonable and did not allow us to build a product or a business on a sustainable business,” he said. “So we’re not necessarily relying on the partnerships that have proven difficult.” Rosenberg added, however, that he hopes to continue label talks in hopes of getting licenses to offer songs for purchase or a service allowing Google to suggest new music to users.
David Pakman, a digital startup investor, suggested that Google was so quick to release its service without getting a thumbs-up from labels because it wanted to keep up with Amazon, which released its own cloud service in March. “If you’re faced with another six months of brutal negotiations and your competitor just launched this, you just get in the market and get a lot of users,” he said. Amazon’s service doesn’t have label cooperation, either, which has led to some sparring with music execs.
For now, Music Beta is invitation-only. Google will send invitations to Verizon Xoom owners, and others can sign up at music.google.com. After uploading content—up to 20,000 songs, which is a big increase over Amazon’s 1,000 songs—users will be able to listen to their music on any Google-linked device with a mobile app or Web-based player, as long as the device supports Flash—which means no iPhones or iPads. Songs will stream from the Web, which means that a user’s complete library isn’t accessible without an Internet connection, but Google will store copies of recently played songs (as well as certain tracks earmarked by users) on devices for offline use.