At Google’s own developer conference two months ago, the internet giant nonchalantly mentioned that it was going to launch its own music service for the Android Market that could directly compete with Apple’s iTunes. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) was reluctant to give out too many facts beyond that, but now there’s increasing evidence that its music store could launch as soon as November or December.
Sources told the New York Post that Andy Rubin, the head of Android, is having “accelerated” talks with a music-industry group publishing firm in hopes of gaining digital publishing rights to as many songs as possible.
Of course, this is where Google is incredibly behind the curve. There are dozens upon dozens of services that already offer a large catalog of music, either for sale or for subscription. In our own analysis, we were able to come up with an extensive chart on the music services available today. Exactly what road Google will take is entirely unknown. Will it sell songs a la carte, or through a subscription model? Will it partner with third parties, or work alone? Or will it be a combination of something else? As a company focused on search and advertising, it could create something new, like a music subsidy.
It won’t be easy. Google will have to face off with institutions, like Apple’s iTunes, which has a roughly 28 percent market share, and Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), which both claim a smaller 12 percent slice of the pie.
The sources said, in particular, Google is in advanced talks with the Harry Fox Agency, which means that discussions with record labels have gone smoothly, and a Google Music store could open in November or December. Previously, a Google engineer has claimed the service will be ready in time for Android 3.0, which will launch around Christmas. Rubin is likely now negotiating the pricing with the labels and the potential business models. Separately, TechCrunch reported last week that Google has hired well known music attorney Elizabeth Moody to assist them with negotiations with music labels.