Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Google Music finally comes to UK, parts of Europe

Starting November 13th, Google Music will finally launch in the UK, complete with a 'Scan and Match' feature that matches tracks in a user's library with Google's database and allowing the song to be streamed to Android phones or tablets.

Service roll out

The service which rolls out across the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, will allow Google users to buy tracks directly from their Android devices or their PC. In addition they may store up to 20,000 tracks for free, or even transfer their iTunes collection at the touch of a button, something that will be seen as another sledgehammer blow to Apple. The scan and match feature is similar to Apples iTunes Match which will also turn stomachs at Google's biggest rival in the smartphone and tablet wars.

No fee

Apple charges some £22 per year for the privilege of storing music, while Amazon's music storage service which recently launched in the UK charges a similar yearly fee.

Until now Google Music has only been available in the US, though some users outside its borders have managed to circumvent regional blocks by the use of a VPN [Virtual Private Network]. The launch in Europe will be unsettling for Apple as it could potentially take millions of users away from its coveted iTunes service.


Google Music is completely integrated with other Google services. Purchases are made using Google Wallet, formerly Google Checkout. Meanwhile songs may be shared through Google+ as a recommendation, though the track may only be played once before being required to buy it in order to continue listening.

Pros & Cons

There are some drawbacks as with any cloud service. Uploading one's music library can seemingly take forever, though the scan and match should speed up the process. It is also advisable to catalogue one's music library properly before initiating an upload. If Google cannot search the artist, song or album then finding music on the web-based interface will prove very problematic. If album art has been added this will also be upload too making the scanning through online files much easier.

Of course the biggest drawback of a cloud service is that an Internet connection is required. Even a modest broadband connection will suffice, but any break up will create problems. Android devices can store some music locally for offline playing, or to avoid data charges when not connected to WiFi

But despite such drawbacks, the service has the advantage of an any time, anywhere music library. Playlists can be created manually or even an auto playlist may be created from a single suggested track where Google scans through the uploaded library and creates its own mix.

With Google trying to make deals with studios so that users can buy films rather than just renting [CNET] the Android platform will become all the more attractive, and put iTunes to shame.

Google which had already inked agreements with Sony, Universal, and EMI, has finally signed a deal with Warner putting it on an even keel with iTunes [NYT]. Now the fight begins.

[CNET / Gizmodo / Gizmodo / Mobot / Google]

See also: tvnewswatch: Google music deserves beta label - June 2011 / tvnewswatch: Google music still US only despite revamp - Nov 2011

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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