As previously reported, Google is looking at competing directly with the likes of Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, and Pandora by launching its own subscription-based streaming music service to complement its online music storage and digital download store Google Music, which recently landed in Australia.
According to industry reports, the new music streaming service could be arriving as early as tomorrow, according to The Verge. Google has been ramping up to deliver their new music service for several months now, and is expected to reveal its hand at the Google I/O conference tomorrow after having signed separate licensing deals with record label majors Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
The new licensing agreements cover both the Google-owned YouTube, and Google Play, paving the path for an extended music subscription service to complement their media empire, using a new entertainment hub for the Android operating system. Fortune magazine confers that Google had already struck similar licensing agreements with Warner Music Group, but getting Universal and Sony – who holds the keys to major acts – complements their plans to roll out their new service.
Meanwhile a report from the New York Times further compounds the rumours, confirming via anonymous sources that Google have “people briefed on the plans.” While the new Google streaming service won’t offer a free tier, in the same that Deezer and Spotify do, it was unclear at what prices or tiers the search engine would charge.
A surprise launch from Google wouldn’t be the first time an IT major managed to slip out a relatively major music service unannounced, Twitter’s own #music managed to achieve a similar feat in recent months. Starting with rumours that they had acquired music aggregate website We Are Hunted, before a soft launch that saw the iOS app being farmed out – and of course, tweeted about – by select ‘cultural influencers‘ before the official Twitter #music launch in April.
A potential launch of a Google music streaming service this week would also get the jump on competitor Apple, who have been slow to arrive to the streaming party after hitting several snags in launching its ‘iRadio’ service, modeled on Pandora and set to be integrated as a free service into the next iteration of iTunes store, which recently celebrated its 10th birthday.
There’s no faulting the growing cultural impact and importance of music streaming services, shown both by the number of big companies looking to enter the market and recent industry reports.
The IFPI’s Digital Music Report showed subscription services experienced a 44% rise, with 20 million paying subscribers worldwide expecting to help account for 10% of digital music revenues, while the RIAA’s own recent report demonstrates the same services – which it labels ‘access models’ – accounted for over $1 billion in music sales in 2012 and a 15% share.