Music Beta by Google: Not Music to My Ears

Google announced Music Beta by Google at their Google I/O developer conference on Tuesday, May 5th, 2011. It will be a cloud music storage service similar to Amazon’s Cloud Player that will allow you to upload your music tracks and stream them to any computer or Android device. It is currently invite only. You can request one here. I have already requested one and will post a review if I get one.

Streaming to iOS
Since the launch of Amazon’s Cloud Player and now Music Beta by Google, many wonder how long it will be until both Google and Amazon get their music services on native iOS apps in Apple’s App Store. I have the answer (or what I think is a very well educated one) to this frequently asked question: Never! Apple will most likely release a streaming music/cloud storage service at their Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June (or at the very least announce and preview it). Apple will most likely not permit Music Beta by Google or Amazon Cloud Player to be made available in the App Store for the following reasons: (1) these services are in competition with Apple’s own offerings (2) they are not protected under the law (which isn’t entirely clear at this point) (3) that these services aren’t in cooperation with the music labels (which they aren’t). Apple will then present their music streaming/cloud storage service and claim that they invented streaming music…Well, maybe not; however, I wouldn’t put it past them.

Music in the cloud
Music in the cloud is still in it’s infancy. One of the first instances of streaming music from the cloud appeared in 2000. My.Mp3.com allowed users to register (not upload) and then stream their music from any computer. The record labels (notoriously slow to respond to progress) called out Mp3.com for making illegal copies since users weren’t uploading the music files they owned. Mp3.com would just make a copy of the song for each user that proved they owned said song. UMG Recordings Inc used the aforementioned as grounds to bring Mp3.com to court and in the case of UMG vs. MP3.com promptly sued Mp3.com out of existence.

On March 29th of this year, Amazon launched Cloud Player as part of their Cloud Drive service. Allowing users to upload (the key phrase) files that they own to Cloud Player. Amazon, and now Google believe that their current deals with the record labels allow them to host the files as long as they aren’t making copies of them. The Cloud Player is very interesting because it does allow users to re-download the music they have uploaded. I’m guessing Amazon thinks that if the user is copying the files, that particular user owns it and it is considered legal. If the record labels decide that they don’t like this Amazon is not liable. The problem lies in the fact that Amazon is providing this ability to copy the files which could ultimately leave them liable.

Music Beta by Google is much like Amazon’s Cloud Player with a few exceptions. Music Beta does not allow you to re-download your music, it does allow you to “pin” music for offline access to any computer or Android device. Though it is unclear what features or pricing Music Beta will have when the final product, you are currently allowed to upload 20,000 songs to your Music Beta account. Amazon’s cloud player only allows 5GB free with an extra 15GB (for a total of 20) made available if you purchase an album from the Amazon MP3 store.

I haven’t tried either of these services but I have read reviews and seen videos on how these services work. I’m continually flummoxed (got that one from Mr. Jobs) at how the music industry requires you to upload tracks which, depending on the size of one’s music library, could take hours. Why can’t we just prove we own the tracks some way and then have those streaming services say “You own this track, it is now available for you to stream” with out the pain of uploading?

Overall, the ability to stream music you own is still developing and working it’s way through murky waters. My hope is that Apple will leverage their clout (which they seem to have no problem doing) with the music labels to get rid of some of the ridiculous restrictions on streaming one’s legally acquired music from the cloud.

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2 thoughts on “Music Beta by Google: Not Music to My Ears

  1. Good point about Apple coming out with their own “cloud” as it were!
    So, let me see if I understand this cloud idea….. at first you have your music stored on your desktop computer and so can only listen to it on there, but now that you’ve uploaded it to the cloud you can access it from any compatible device?

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