Google Music Is Now Launching, Without Label Licensing

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Look what Amazon started.

Now, a frustrated Google has opted to push forward with its much-anticipated cloud music launch – without major label approval.  One Google source to Digital Music News pointed to a formal unveiling at Google’s I/O presentation on Tuesday, and several major outlets – including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times – are reporting the same.

This won’t be a full-scale launch.  Initially, the service will be branded ‘Music Beta,’ but it will bear similarity to Amazon’s recently-launched Cloud Drive.  That means that users will have the ability to upload their music collections into a Google-supported cloud, and easily access that collection across Android devices.  But the upload process may be time-consuming, simply because Google will not have the rights to instantly recognize and duplicate a song in the cloud.  Instead, Google will be forced to upload the song version provided by the user – even if that song is duplicated thousands of times over by others.

Maybe this part is obvious, but why no labels?  Our Google contact pointed to “continued difficulties with at least two different [major] labels,” and a total inability to “finalize something reasonable from a business standpoint.”  That was echoed by Jamie Rosenberg, director of digital content for Android, who later told the New York Times that Google was “not necessarily relying on the partnerships that have proven difficult.”

That will undoubtedly alienate the majors, though they probably have little recourse – and, for that matter, may come back to the table in due course.

Sound familiar?  More details, including those related to storage pricing remain ahead.  But if Google wants to make a serious stab at Amazon, they might start with cheaper pricing – or, even free storage.