Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

Summary: Google Music has a tough road ahead without the support of big Hollywood labels - but a strong user interface and plenty of storage can take it a long way.

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TOPICS: Google
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There were plenty of questions about Google's new music service during a Q&A with the press after this morning's keynote at the Google I/O Developer's conference.

  • Why did talks break down with the record labels?
  • Which labels were involved and what were their sticking points?
  • What's the quality of the streams?
  • And, most importantly, Is this legal, in terms of copyrights?

First and foremost, the company was very quick to answer the "legal" question. Yes, they said, Google's music service is absolutely legal and takes the respect of copyrights to heart. Think of it, they said, as being no different than a user moving his personal music library to an external hard drive or a portable music player like the iPod.

So, it's a cloud storage service - with a music-playing user interface added to it.

For now, it looks like that's what Google is offering - and that's OK with me. People tend to forget that iTunes started off as a user interface program where people could sync their existing music catalog (you know, all those tracks we downloaded from Napster back in the day) with their iPods. It's the same idea today - but without those wires and having to sync to a single computer, the way iTunes and iPods still work today.

This is not to say that selling new music isn't important and something that Google should keep going after. But the UI and storage part is a big deal. If a user can put 20,000 tracks from an iTunes collection into the cloud and stream to any device, the company takes all of those Android devices out there and turns them into music players. Sure, we could always play music from those devices, via the SD card in the phone, but exponentially intensifying that with a cloud-sync offering raises the stakes - and kind of makes me wonder why I need an iPod.

In terms of stream quality, the company said it will stream back up to 320 kbps, depending on the quality of the music file itself. Also, the stream will be adjusted based on the connection speed, trying to offer the best quality experience, they said.

As for those other questions, Google execs at the Q&A certainly weren't going to share details of the talks that broke down with key music labels, nor were they going to name the labels themselves. What they did say was that the terms that some of the labels wanted were "unreasonable" and "unsustainable."

Big surprise there.

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Topic: Google

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18 comments
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  • I wish Google luck on this one

    I hope it can pull it off, legally speaking. Google is in a far better position that others to try this given they are not a big distributor of online music with label contracts to worry about.
    oncall
  • World to Hollywoood

    We'll be fine with or without you.

    If there is one dinosaur left in the world would truly don't get that the CD is dead, the DVD is the last physical medium left and their entire business model of ripping off artists and consumers with insane 1 hit wonder CDs is over.
    BobsYourUnclw
  • Streaming is great but what about data plans?

    The idea of cloud music players is great. But how much is this going to cost everyone? The major mobile service providers offered tiered data plans. If streaming music for a month costs an extra 10-20 bucks a month... everyone might be better off waiting for a larger capacity ipod. Granted this is not as cool from a techy point of view, but it may end up being cheaper.
    samr800
    • RE: Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

      @samr800 I've been using the Amazon Cloud Player for a bit now. I'd don't listen to music on my phone that often but 3 hours used about 170mb. That said, I have also used it from both my personal laptops, my media server, a friend's computer at their house and on my phone via wired and WiFi connection. All without syncing a thing. Thats the real seller of this kind of service IMHO.
      30otnix
  • So what you're saying Sam Diaz is that

    is that they learned their lessons from their book scanning deal, you know, where the copywrite owners weren't happy with Google making money off of their work, so they did not do that here?<br><br>Or are you saying that the recording industry has more money behind them and Google found out they couldn't just take someone else's music and make money off of it this time?
    Bill Pharaoh
  • RE: Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

    I'm trying to figure out how this differs from Amazon Cloud Player. Anyone have any ideas?
    30otnix
  • exponentially intensifying that with a cloud-sync offering raises the stake

    I don't think so. I am not going to pay for bandwidth to hear music I own. I will always need some sort of device to play it on, so really there is not much benifit here...
    happyharry_z
  • Message has been deleted.

    MacCanuck
    • Because Google decided that IP should die

      @MacCanuck
      so they're just doing what they please when they can.

      Of course nobody's going to see the code that runs it all, we just have to take their word on it that "we aren't infringing".

      Not that I believe them mid you.
      Bill Pharaoh
    • RE: Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

      @MacCanuck Have read it, and I must say - Google came out better than I expected. What version of the book did you read?
      staannoe
      • @staannoe

        >>> Google came out better than I expected. What version of the book did you read? >>><br><br>The book that described Google...<br><br>as started by either geniuses or the insane (fine line between the two) in Page and Brin<br><br>as paranoid, super secretive and protective re their "crown jewels" yet seem to have little trouble infringing on others' IP<br><br>tracking and gathering so much personal information, something it questioned at first only to justify it as it was the means to make money (EVERYTHING revolves around personal data and how Google uses it)<br><br>as obsessive and self-important saviours of the world (ideal/goal of "helping the user") thus ends justifies the means in corporate operations<br><br>adopting the feel-good "Doing no evil" (as described above) but finding ways to justify it to fulfill the "corporate goal"<br><br>having no qualms about "screwing" it's so-called partners (ie, forcing up bidding on Internet auction with no intent to buy ("screwing" Verizon, AT&T, etc); selling it's own smartphone putting the screws to partner OEMs; getting into apps vs Microsoft, Apple, others (Googler... "Screw them"), etc<br><br>held off on aspects of Apple's UI (recognizing possible IP issues) until Apple went after HTC then Google implemented pinch & zoom, etc anyway (again... that "screw 'em" attitude)<br><br>as greedy, wanting to control all markets (this weeks I/O conference further proof)<br><br>And I'm only 2/3 of the way thru the book!<br><br>On the surface, the search aspect (world's info at your finger tips) almost seems philanthropic but it's become power hungry and everything comes down to pushing adwords and click-thrus and the money they pull in.
        MacCanuck
      • @MacCanuck

        I think they're there to make money. They give you the free service, they make their money. You're happy, they are happy. No one is a father christmas. What do you expect? For Google to give you all their services free of charge and get nothing out of it? How would they pay the running cost? How would they pay their staff?<br><br>If you are not very comfortable with ads, maybe you should open your own YouTube. If not, then shut up and stop complaining! What's wrong with human beings?

        <b>EDIT:</b> No one forces you to use any service or click any ads. So, take the service and leave the ads if you don't like them (ZDNet lives on ads too, and by your theory, they're evil too)
        xkizer
  • RE: Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

    It would be best if Google did it without Hollywood. No need to pollute the new music service with things like Ke$ha.
    LoverockDavidson
  • RE: Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

    Here are the only main chinks in the armor I can see...

    While it seems the record industry is still trying to do things the old school way... by taking the lion's share of the artist's creations and passing the expense all the way to us the consumer...

    It seems the artist gets screwed again.
    Since there seems to be no model for royalties being paid to the artist.. where at least with the studios and record labels kicked something down.

    Down the road, where would the incentive for the artist to write and record music?

    Since even though all artist seem to start out starving, most don't want to continue to starve.
    DMasut
    • RE: Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

      @DMasut Seems to me what Google is offering is cloud storage of music you have already bought and paid for, the royalties already having gone to the artist. Google is just offering a medium to store the bits, and to stream them back to you when and where you want. Should an artist get royalties every time you play a song you already bought?

      If the record labels had any interest in the changes coming over the past 10 years, they'd already have banned together and offered their own cloud-streaming service (ala Hulu).
      bigsibling
  • RE: Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

    There must be a way that Google can charge a $1 per song and give $.10 to labels, $.30-$.40 to the artist and keep the rest.

    Everybody stays happy (maybe labels will grumble for a while until they realize it's that or nothing) and it keeps the artists in the creative realm.
    DMasut
    • DMasut....UMMmm, Not Everybody stays happy

      @DMasut
      You never answered bigsibling's question:
      "Should an artist get royalties every time you play a song you already bought?"

      The answer should be and always is NO, NO, NO, NEVER!

      You buy it, it is yours.

      But in your "Everybody stays happy" alternate solution

      Your logic says you think kids should pay Huffy or Schwinn "per mile", & "per road" to ride a bike that they already own free and clear.

      Or perhaps you would like to pay the manufacturers of your plates and silverware on a per meal basis, & per location after having already "bought" them at a store.

      And don't forget a "per use" & "per location" re-billing for your disposable toothbrush.


      But clearly, money is not an issue with you. Must be nice to have unlimited money to the degree that it has altered your view of reality, and now believe everyone is just as rich as you.

      I shop at thrift-stores and second hand CD & LP shops, I pick up cds and records for .20 to .80 cents all the time. I own the media the music came on, and I am happy to keep it that way. Thanks for playing, but next time choose the winning side.
      zed.wagner@...
  • RE: Google to Hollywood: We'll do music with or without you

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