Google Music gets official launch

While the official launch of Google Music is exciting, it's slightly tempered by the fact that we have yet to hear about a UK launch. But it is coming.

It has been in beta, but Google is now offering the service for all. At least, all US users. However, according to Engadget, Universal's Rob Wells has said he is excited about the 'global rollout' of the service, so that's obviously happening. Probably when those rights issues have been ironed out for the UK. So don't worry, it will be here eventually.

When it does, it could be a real challenger to Apple's iTunes dominance. The company is partnering with Universal, EMI, Sony Music and 23 independent labels on the service, Warner Music Group being the obvious omission. It's also partnering with you. Through what's called an Artist Hub, you can have your own selling page for $25, with Google taking a 30% cut of any music (your own, obviously) that you sell. Already it has that community feel about it. Indeed, it's also being integrated into the Google+ service, so you can share songs with friends in your circle, who can hear a tune without paying for it.

But for us, the important factor here is integration with Android devices. Music is stored in the cloud, and up to 20,000 tracks can be stored there. These songs can be streamed via any connected device. There's an app (now improved with the latest launch) and an enhanced Android Market with a music tab allowing easy accessing to buying music. Which all means you can buy music via your phone, store in the cloud and access anytime, even playing music when you are 'offline'. Songs start from 69 cents (44p) to $1.29 and come without DRM copy-protection, you'll be pleased to know. There will also be a different track offfered for free each day.

All good, but for that UK launch. That will depend on how far down the road the labels are with Google for this particular territory. As we've seen with Apple's services, it can be a long and drawn out process. But when it does finally launch here, it will be a huge weapon in the armoury of Google when it comes to selling the Android platform to consumers.

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