Google Music is no longer in beta and is currently free to store up to 20,000 songs for you. Just go to http://music.google.com, sign up using a Google account and away you go. You can download their music manager software which will scan your iTunes library (or other folders, etc.) providing you with a method to upload your entire collection (again, up to 20,000 songs) or just select play lists.
Google also has songs for sale, just like Amazon and Apple. They have partnered with Universal, Sony, EMI, Merlin and over 1,000 independent music labels. Glaringly absent from this list is Warner Brothers, but I’m sure Google is working on that one as well. Just like Amazon and Apple (with iTunes Match and iCloud), when you purchase music from Google, it’s automatically added to your Google Music locker.
Unlike Apple and Amazon, Google has a venue for independent artists to distribute and sell their music. If you own the copyright to your song, you can sell your artistic talents through the store and keep 70% of the revenue. Not bad if you have no other way of distributing your music to the masses. As an artist that sells your music this way, you can also link it to your Google+ and YouTube pages. Google calls this feature the “Artist Hub”.
One cool feature is that you can share your music with your friends. When you share a song or an entire collection of songs, your friends can listen to them fully through one time. It’s a great way to let your friends sample your musical tastes, but giving them more than a sample.
I downloaded the music manager, let it scan my iTunes library and selected a few playlists to upload (my entire library is about 5600 songs, not that big but not something I wanted to upload tonight). It started “preparing” my music for upload, whatever that means. A few minutes later, it told me that it was uploading my music (the manager runs in the tray). It does this in the background.
As it’s uploading the music, you can check the website and see the album art for each album eventually show up. Double-clicking on a song on the site starts playing the song, very much like Amazon’s musical storage locker service does. In comparison, the two services are very similar, much more similar as compared to Apple.
Is there room in this space for yet another music store and storage locker service? Apple, by far, has the market pretty much locked up with Amazon trailing a close 2nd. Google is a behemoth whenever they decide to do anything, so I won’t count them out just yet. But I think it’s a bit too late to try and compete in this space, unless they plan to leverage the vast number of android devices that are in the market now to make their case.