After months, nay years of speculation, Google Music has finally arrived. Albeit in beta form and only available in the US. Still they beat rivals Apple to it and the significance of the Google Music launch dwarfs that of the Amazon’s Cloud Drive / Player. Here we outline the major reason why the entrance of Google Music into the market is so important.
Because it’s Google, stupid
The single biggest reason the music industry has spent so long speculating about Google’s venture into their world is because of the sheer size and power of the organisation. Google has cash reserves of $35billion. Yes, that’s right BILLION. And they are getting richer to the tune of billions every month. They are the single biggest player in the world of the internet and despite Facebook getting all the media attention of late it is still Google who continue to be the most successful at monetising the web. The fact is Google could buy the music industry outright, if it wanted to.
They don’t though. What they want is to continue doing what they’ve always done; bringing internet users to content and making money on the side through advertising revenues. Google Music is “At least while it’s in beta, …. free,” said Paul Joyce in his keynote presentation of Music Beta. So it looks like they are testing out how to achieve the balance of providing the expensive infrastructure behind the service free to users but with support from advertisers. They’re not newbies at this game remember – they’ve gone down this road with YouTube before, an arm of their business which was initially loss-making because of expensive video hosting costs, but is now one of their key growth areas. And let’s not forget that the biggest driver of traffic to YouTube is music videos. Revenue sharing deals (or should that be lawsuits?) with music labels and the Vevo experience are both examples of how Google has learned a lot about working with the music industry in the past few years. Music Beta will see them ramping up their influence in the area and flexing their considerably powerful muscles.
Of course Google have earned this power because they provide useful services to people. It is their giant user-base which marks them out from their rivals in the cloud music stakes. Google keep their user numbers close to their chest but they are the most popular search engine in the world with market shares ranging from 66% in the US to circa 90% in Western Europe., there are an estimated 200 m illion users of their email client Gmail, their web browser Chrome is used by 12% of the internet population and there are 2 billion YouTube video views every day. In addition to all this, Google are running strong in the mobile internet race. Their mobile operating system Android has outstripped rival Apple’s iPhone OS and looks set to continue its rise thanks to the eager development efforts of handset partners like Samsung and HTC. Apple will have to draw on their longer experience in the music field and develop a cloud music service that is extra special, with their trademarks of usability and high design to compete with an Android-integrated Google Music.
But enough analysis – what is it going to look like? Well, Google have released a video to demonstrate the technology’s slick-looking features which includes easy-to-use music library syncing and cache storage to your mobile device so that you can listen to selected music even if you’re not online:
Google are currently testing Music Beta with staffers and developers, after which they will roll out beta-invites in the US-only. So in reality it will be a while before Google Music hits the rest of the world. But when it does, it has the potential to change the music industry forever.