Google Music is no longer available only in beta mode to a limited pool of test group users. Now the digital streaming service is opening to the public.
Better yet, everyone can access Google Music for free and store up to 20,000 of the tracks they already own.
"Other music services think you have to pay to listen to music you already own. We don’t," said Jamie Rosenberg, Google's director of Android digital content while unveiling the latest version of Google Music at a media event in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
However, that doesn't mean Google won't stop you from giving it money for music entirely. Google is expanding its focus on digital music to include at millions of tracks for sale in the Android Market. Specifically, Google will offer 8 million initially with the promise of 13 million total soon.
Each track will be sold as a 320kbps MP3 file, and pricing ranges from 99 cents to $1.29 per song.
A big change this time around is that Google has secured major label partners this time around, specifically Sony, EMI and Universal Music, among thousands of other indie labels. And for you Coldplay fans out there wondering why the British group is not making their latest album available on streaming services like Spotify, this deal with Google Music is likely the explanation.
Rosenberg explained that today's technologies, including high-speed networks, mobile operating systems (i.e. Android), social networks (i.e. Google+), and advancements in cloud services can dramatically improve digital music.
“In fact, it's what customers have come to expect,” Rosenberg added.
Since Music Beta first debuted after Google I/O earlier this year on a limited, invitation-only basis, Rosenberg said that Google learned that the feature users loved most was that their music was available to them from all devices instantly without having to transfer them anywhere. Rosenberg also noted that the average beta user streamed music about two and a half hours per day.
Naturally, there's also going to be some big tie-ins to other Google products -- chiefly Google+. For example, listeners on Google Music can share content (meaning, entire songs) via Circles and they can see what they're friends are listening to on their friend streams.
And much like what Starbucks does with iTunes, Google Music will be offering free tracks everyday.
Google also seems to be reaching to take away the last thing that might be holding up MySpace at all, which is artist promotion. Basically, Google is enabling music artists to be able to set up pages (for a one-time $25 fee) with music, metadata info, and more. Artists will keep 70 percent of revenue of sales in the Android Market, without any upload fees, etc.
The other big revelation at the event was that Google has now activated more than 200 million Android devices -- that's double from the 100 million mark it hit this past May.
The updated web music player is available on the desktop and for Android tablets and smartphones in the U.S. immediately -- no invitation required.
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