The Google MP3 store is set to launch in one to two weeks. The music store will include a song-sharing service that's integrated with Google+. At the time of launch, Google is likely to have licenses with only two of the four major labels.
New Information on the Google Music Store
We can expect a launch of the Google music store by mid-November at the latest, according to The Wall Street Journal, who cites multiple sources familiar with the matter. The music store won't just be integrated with the Google Music (Beta) service, however. It will also be deeply ingrained into the Google+ social network.
Google+ users will be able to share songs via the social network. Their friends can then listen to the song completely one time. Afterward, they will be given the option to buy the track, presumably for the standard $0.99 figure.
However, at the time of launch, Google will likely have a limited selection of music. While it's probable that an official deal with EMI Group will be complete prior to launch, it's uncertain whether Universal Music Group will officially license to Google in time. Additionally, both Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have yet to reach a satisfactory point in negotiations with Google.
As these four music companies hold the rights to 87 percent of label-published music, winning these partnerships is important. However, Google is struggling with both Warner and Sony; Warner says the Google deal simply isn't profitable enough while Sony fears potential piracy due to the "music locker" concept. (The music locker would match uploaded songs with songs in Google's official store, allowing users to play back a higher quality version of said song than the version the user uploaded.)
Independent labels seem more willing to join with Google. Two groups that represent smaller labels are also in negotiation with Google, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The Music Store's History
While Google has yet to make an official announcement of the music store, multiple label executives as well as others familiar with the matter have given news of Google's license negotiations. These licensing deals were assumed to be a part of the Google Music (Beta) program, and were set as a way to both open an MP3 store and establish an online music locker.
Google had previously attempted to open a music locker, without success, largely due to concerns over potential piracy. Given the ongoing struggle between Google and music labels (largely centered around YouTube), it's unsurprising that we see some friction here.
However, the industry climate is changing. Similar music services are now being launched by Apple ("iCloud") and Amazon ("Cloud Drive"). Additionally, Facebook's ventures into music with Spotify have shown high levels of interest in socially-driven music; with three million Facebook users registered for the Spotify cloud-based music subscription service. In this cloudy climate, labels are far more likely to partner with Google – assuming Google's offer is lucrative enough.