Google announced today that its Music Beta has come to an end, and the app is now available to the masses without an invite. I was just talking about Google Music in my Rock out with Android series. There have been a couple key changes since I posted that article.
The first major change is that the app is now available to all of the Android users that currently use version 2.2 or above. Google stated that of the 200 million Android phones currently in service, only 13% won’t have access to the updated app and it’s extra features.
One of the key features that Google added was access to their own music store to rival iTunes. Google has agreements with three of the four largest record labels that give them over 8 million songs currently available for sale ranging in price from $.99 to $1.29 US per song. Unfortunately it is only available in the US for the time being. Google has signed on Sony Music, EMI, and Universal Music, with Warner Music the only large label not signing on.
All songs purchased in the Google Music store, or from the Android Market automatically show up in your Google Music app. They will be available at 320 kbps, and any other song you own will also be available to stream at that high of quality. Google has kept the app and streaming service free, and it also kept the 20,000 song limit. Google’s director of Android digital content said “Other music services think you have to pay to listen to music you already own. We don’t.” I think that’s a great philosophy!
One of the great things about Google Music Beta was that they were always offering free music to listen to. Even though they dropped the beta tag, they are keeping the free music coming. The even have exclusive rights to some acts new albums. Groups such as Pearl Jam, Shakira, Dave Matthews Band, and Coldplay will have Google exclusive music. The Rolling Stones will have six unreleased live concert albums available.
In keeping with Google’s recent integration of most of their products with Google+, Google Music is no exception. Users have the ability to share certain songs or entire albums with their circles. This gives their friends a chance to listen to these tracks in their entirety once, and then has easy links to purchase the songs from the Google music store.
If you were one of the beta testers for Google Music, make sure you open up your Android Market and download the updated version to access all the new goodies. If you weren’t able to get into the beta, well you better head on over to the Market and download yourself a great music app.[Market | Engadget]