You may have heard the rumors, which have been circulating for nearly a year now, that Google will launch its own digital music service which will involve a cloud-based digital locker. This service will enable users to store their music for a $25 annual fee.
Google has started reaching out to different record labels hoping that they will jump into the deal, which will allow them to share access to their music. Part of the deal involves a feature that would let online users to listen to and browse through an online store’s music selection without purchasing the tracks they like. Instead of downloading the music file, users will just store them in the “music locker” then listen to them later on.
Unlike the conventional way of purchasing music file which only allows a 30 seconds snippet preview; Google’s music service feature will friends of its subscribers listen to the purchased music files at least once without having to buy it themselves.
This idea of offering a digital storage locker is actually a retry of an initial attempt made by another company a decade ago: the MP3Tunes website, owned by Michael Robertson. He was the first to launch internet-based music services. At MP3Tunes,Robertson introduced a music service with online streaming, but his initial efforts landed him in a lawsuit with Universal Music.
Part of Universal Music’s lawsuit against MP3Tunes was emphasizing that the latter was violating copyright issues by acquiring music files illicitly. At present, MP3Tunes is battling another lawsuit with another record label, EMI, for the same sort of music copying charges.
Google’s attempt to connect the public to its cloud based music services would have been the first time since the failed attempt of MP3Tunes. While streaming providers like Rhapsody and MOG have invaded the industry of online music services, there are some features that users dislike. For example, most users still prefer to download the files onto their computer, so perhaps they have several reasons for not trusting the online locker concept.
Following MP3Tunes attempts to introduce online music locker to the public were Apple’s Lala, which would have been iTunes’ version of online locker. Lala has since ceased operation. Another similar service is Best Buy’s Napster.
Establishing another media service is Google’s way of expanding its social network. With the desire of record labels to continuously profit from online users, selling the rights remains impossible.
Google has tried every means to convince the big record labels to let them get in on the media industry. In fact, Google has contracted with a law firm to take care of the negotiations every step of the way. Whether the record labels would sign in the deal with Google or not remains a question to most of us.
One thing is for sure—the profit generated and projected for the music industry will never go away, hence the interest of record labels in retaining full control of the business. It will always be the music giants’ prerogative to protect copyrights of its artists, and as an extension, their own profits…so unless Google can accomplish those goals, maybe they shouldn’t hold their breath.