Google Unveils New Music Service, Courts Indie Artists

A new store to compete with iTunes, bolstered by Google-Plus integration

Google took the wraps off its new music service on Wednesday in a Los Angeles event designed to showcase its bid to compete against Apple and Amazon in a brand-new arena.

Google’s Music Beta cloud service is now Google Music, launched in partnership with major labels EMI, Universal and Sony, as well as loads of independent outlets as well. It is available only in the United States.

Also Read: Why Google Thinks It Can Challenge Apple's iTunes 

The biggest new feature is the music store – a potential rival to iTunes – that allows you to buy songs from the Android Market. Songs will cost 99 cents – like with most tracks in iTunes – and users can store and stream up to 20,000 songs in the cloud for free.

Google is the latest entrant into cloud based services; Amazon already launched its cloud service and Apple launched iMatch on Monday.

Unlike iMatch, this storage is free. However, iMatch does the uploading for you. In this case, your purchases go in the cloud, but you must upload the music you already have.

This new service lacks an agreement with major Warner Music Group, prompting Zahavah Levine, Director of Content Partnerships for Android, to say that they will continue to look for new partners.

They did bring representatives on stage from EMI, Universal and Merlin, a global rights agency representing independent labels.

One way in which the Google service is truly different is the social element. If you purchase a song or album, any of your friends on Google Plus can play it once for free.

Most of these features were reported in advance of the event, but there are a few new details.

Undiscovered artists can get their music into the store without a record deal: Through the "Artist Hub," musicians can pay $25 to have the ability to upload their music, label the album or songs as they please and change the pricing.

“Even today’s biggest superstars started out as indie artists,” said Chris Yerga, director of cloud services at Android.

Google has also integrated other content into the store, like interviews with artists, and will be offering new music exclusive to the store, including live tracks from the likes of Coldplay and the Rolling Stones.