Google Music Remains Free, Launches Music Store ala iTunes

Android Market - Music

Android Market - Music

Google has officially opened its music service to users in the U.S., providing cloud storage and streaming for up to 20,000 songs at no charge. The company also launched a music store in the Android Market, a toe-to-toe competitor to Apple’s iTunes.

Songs, which sell for the normal $0.99 to $1.29 a pop, will be automatically added to your Google Music library upon purchasing. Even if you’re tight on budget, your library can still be expanded by grabbing the “Free Song of the Day.”

As expected, Google Music is tightly integrated with Google+. Purchased songs can be easily shared on the social network, and your friends can play the each full-length track once for free. Since Google Music is only available in the U.S. right now, it’s unclear whether international users will have the same privilege. (Update: Users outside U.S. can only play 90 seconds previews, not full length tracks.)

As of now, Google has only partnered with three out of the four major music labels — Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and EMI Group. Pricing and privacy concerns are apparently slowing down discussions with Warner Music Group. Still, including independent labels, Google Music will boast 13 million tracks. Eight million are available right now.

With the launch, Google is now an even bigger rival to Apple and, to a lesser extent, Amazon. All the three are selling music online and have their own related cloud services, albeit in different forms and with different pricing.

Steve Jobs, the former chief of Apple, once vowed to destroy Google’s Android. You’ve got to wonder: How would he react to Google Music?

I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.

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