Google Music debuts, with downloads and sharing (live blog)

Google Music is now open to all, offering a cloud-based music locker, downloads and sharing via Google+. Tune in here for live coverage.

Editor's note: We used Cover It Live for this event, so if you missed the live blog, you can still replay it in the embedded component at the end of this post. Replaying the event will give you all the live updates along with commentary from our readers and CNET reporters. Or you can read the edited transcription below.

And to get the key points from today's announcement, in which Google opened up its music service to all users and debuted music downloads and Google+ music sharing, you can check out a summary story here . In addition, there's video of the Google Music event , Greg Sandoval's analysis of what Google has accomplished , and Jessica Dolcourt's Google Music-themed interview with Busta Rhymes .
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Google is holding a music-themed extravaganza Wednesday, and we'll be there live to bring you the news.

The event is expected to bring the launch of Google's online music download store, the latest such digital storefront from the search giant. Google already operates a digital store for books, as well as for software applications on both its Android and Chrome platforms.

Alongside the formal launch of that service, Google is expected to unveil deals with most of the big record companies to sell digital music downloads from those catalogs. Purchased tracks can then be accessed from both the Web and on mobile devices, including those running Google's Android operating system. Social features could let users share purchased tracks with their friends via Google+.

Edited transcript starts here:

1:52-53 p.m. PT: Josh Lowensohn: Hey everyone, thanks for joining us. I'm here in San Francisco, and joining us shortly is Jay Greene from Seattle. CNET's Greg Sandoval is on the scene for Google's event in L.A. and will be joining us shortly. And I almost forgot, CNET's Jessica Dolcourt is there as well!

1:55-57 p.m.: Jay Greene: Google is expected to announce the latest iteration of Google Music, a service the company has had in beta since the spring. The company hasn't said much, but the news today is likely going to focus on selling music from the major labels. The biggest question they'll answer is which of the four major labels they've signed to the new service. Google will also likely unveil how folks can share their music, a big issue for labels that have seen revenues dry up with folks freely copying songs from others.

1:57 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: Here's a tidbit of news. My music industry sources say Google has still not reached a deal with Warner Music Group as of this morning, but has signed deals with the other three major labels.

1:58-2:01 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: You'd think Google had never had a product launch before, with the total lack of outlets. Three cheers for Wi-Fi for laptops *and* mobile devices, but I had to get fiesty and throw some elbows to secure a daisy-chained power strip. It's a gorgeous 70 degrees in LA and they're cooking up some appetizers in the back, but what we really want is for them to get started.

2:03-04 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: We're sitting here in what looks like an abandoned building that was only set up for the event today. Mr. Brainwash's Studio in LA, straight outta the movies. It's wacky. Cut-outs of storm troopers on the roof, a psychedelic painted Google statue inside. T-Mobile is definitely taking a role here in the announcement. The girls at the check-in table were dressed in T-Mobile shirts and shorts. T-Mobile is also co-sponsoring tonight's concert, with Maroon 5, Drake, and Busta Rhymes.

2:09-10 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: Oh damn, Busta Rhymes just sat down two rows in front of us! No wonder they wouldn't let us sit up shop in those reserved seats...they have real VIPs. Channeling Joan Rivers, he's wearing a black long sleeve jacket with white threading on it, shades, and short hair. That's about all I can see from the back.

2:12-13 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: Ladies and gentlemen, a Google exec has taken the stage. Jamie Rosenberg is saying that Google is using the Web to improve people's lives. Back in May we launched Music Beta by Google, allowed you to access that music from the Web and on any device.

2:17-2:19 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: So, this is cool. Music Manager is like iTunes, but it actually plays nice with iTunes... at least in theory. Oh, so that's the T-Mobile tie-in: they're showing it on the HTC Amaze 4G. Riiiight. Whoa--that's a new OS they're showing it on. Could it be...Ice Cream Sandwich?

2:17-19 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: Let's walk how this works. If you pick which music you want in the cloud, all playlists ratings are added automatically. This is the music app for Android. All my music playlists, all my music goes into the library. I can stream everything in my library. We've improved the music app and music manager. Now let's look at the integration with Android Market. We've already added movie rentals and books and today we're announcing we're adding music.

2:20-22 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: The app looks really good and clean, by the way. There's a recommendations engine to help make music discoverable. You can easily share with Google+, so there's your integration right there. The demo they're showing of Google Music in the Android Market online looks really polished. I'm really glad they simplified the mobile apps.

2:21-23 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: The focus is on discovery. One way is recommendations. Perhaps the most important way the service helps discover music is through friends. The easiest way to start playing is the listen link. If you want to share with others, hit a button. They're showing the Web player. Here's a few more features we're excited about. A different song of the day, 100s of free tracks to jump-start a collection, and something called antenna, which is a way to find new artists.

2:24 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: Of course, Google is offering exclusive access to some artist content. We're watching a Coldplay interview now. And Coldplay has just named their song something totally unpronounceable : )

2:25 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: Coldplay doesn't want music issued on Spotify, but they're apparently on board with Google Music. To be fair, Coldplay has snubbed all the subscription services.

2:25 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: "All our music is programmed by our professional music geeks." Do you need a degree in that, I wonder? And how will you purchase these apps? Why, with Google Wallet, of course!

2:26-27 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: Every time you buy a song, you can share a song with a friend for a free listen. This was first reported by CNET. When I purchase an album, my friends can listen from start to end for free.

2:26 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: You can share straight from the purchasing screen too.... That's about an hour of free music, sez Google.

2:27 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: That's a better offer than just an individual song.

2:28 p.m.: Zahavah Levine coming up now, the former YouTube general counsel who is now Android's chief of content acquisition. She's announcing content partners. Sony, Universal and EMI as well as many indies.

2:29 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: Greg so called the content partners. What's telling is who isn't there....

2:29-33 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: Warner is not part of Google Music... Warner and Google have history of butting heads. Levine says that Google is looking forward to adding partners, i.e. Warner.

2:30-33 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: Partners include over 1,000 record labels, which gives them access to about 13 million tracks, 8 million available today. Big Universal, EMI execs on stage now to pat Google on the back. Universal called Google Music an antipiracy tool.

2:34-42 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: Rolling Stones offeirng 6 never-released live concerts with Google Music. One today, the rest in 2012. Coldplay is giving Google an exclusive too, from its unpronounceable tour. Busta's first single available today for free on Google Music. Busta is sitting two seats in front of us, by the way. That makes us extra cool. They are VERY excited about the free, exclusive content. But I'm surprised Busta didn't get on stage yet. RIM would have had Black Eyed Peas up in a second.

2:35 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: Nope, instead they invited an "aspiring" rock star on stage. The Artist hub is built into Google Music, which is a direct connector to users, so it's basically trying to out-Myspace Myspace. Google is taking some pretty bold steps to face off against Apple's iTunes chokehold. Conscripting fresh-faced artists is a new tack. Up-and-comers can set their own prices and link directly to the song and video downloads, but they'll catch more flies with those big-name exclusives with Coldplay, Busta, and crew.... Artists create an artist page for a one-time $25 fee, just as with Android developers. Artists keep 70% of the revenue, and there's no annual or per-album upload fees. The YouTube tie-in links the Google Music store to YouTube's paid channel.

2:42 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: This is a big appeal to indie bands to jump into Android.

2:42 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: Yeah, there's basically a full dashboard for artists to manage every aspect, except cheesy backgrounds a la MySpace.

2:43 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: Now, turning it back to Jamie.

2:43-47 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: He's announcing another partnership! Yep, T-Mobile will be the first to get carrier billing through the Music store. It's nice to see a company as strong as Google paying homage to a company that's leaning into its decline for its start with Android, the T-Mo G1. Now T-Mobile is patting itself on the back, the shoulder, the hand, the elbow...it's like an extended commercial. Video consumption counts for half of T-Mo's network data, in addition to streaming audio, another 15%. That's before Google Music launches. Sharing and discovering music, and organizing, is what people really want, so Google Music will be able to answer that, T-Mobile says. T-Mobile wants to see purchases downloading and sharing quickly with T-Mobile's HSPA+ network--now think of it on Verizon's 4G LTE!

2:47 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: Free content for T-mobile customers, from Drake, Maroon 5 and Busta Rhymes.

2:47 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: Tonight's kick-off concert features the artists that T-Mobile is offering exclusively on Google Music.

2:48 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: And now for the recap.

2:48-49 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: Store and stream songs for free up to 20,000 songs. It's rolling out to Android devices over the next few days.

2:49 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: Free song plays for your friends is an advantage they're really pushing.

2:49 p.m.: Greg Sandoval: And there's Google Plus and, major content partners, Artists Hub, and T-Mobile partnership.

2:49 p.m.: Jessica Dolcourt: And with that, Google Music is open for business.

2:51 p.m.: Josh Lowensohn: All right, everyone. That's it for Google's presentation. Thanks for joining us. We'll have a full rundown of the news, analysis and hands-ons back at CNET.


Note: If you plan to watch the live blog from an iOS device or any other mobile browser, make sure you have JavaScript enabled. On iOS you can find that toggle in Settings > Safari. On Android, the setting can be toggled within the native browser's settings menu.

CNET's Josh Lowensohn contributed to this report.

Editors' note: The original, barebones version of this story was published November 15 at 5:29 p.m. PT.

 

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