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Music Beta by Google lets you listen to 20,000 songs wherever you are

Google has its head in the cloud today, revealing a new service that lets you store your music online and listen to it anywhere.

Google has its head in the cloud today, revealing a new service that lets you store your music online and listen to it anywhere. But, as the name suggests, Music Beta by Google isn't 100 per cent finished.

The service will let you store MP3s that you've bought or ripped from CDs. You can then listen to your music on your phone, tablet or any computer, streamed over the Web. That means you'll always have access to your music, but you don't have to worry about filling up the memory of your mobile device.

Google's Music Beta stores up to 20,000 songs online. Record labels aren't involved yet, so there's no option to buy and share music through the service. Google is working on those money-spinning options, but reaching deals with record labels is notoriously tortuous -- just ask Spotify, which has been angling for a US launch for years now.

The New York Times quotes Jamie Rosenberg, Google's Android director for digital content, as saying that some of the major labels have been "demanding a set of business terms that were unreasonable and did not allow us to build a product or a business on a sustainable [basis]".

Uploading is handled by technology that Google acquired when it bought Simplify Media, a mobile app that let you access your cloud-stored music and media on your iPhone. As with the Spotify app, music can also be stored on your mobile device so that you can listen to it when you don't have a Web connection.

The Google service is similar to Amazon Cloud, only with much more storage space. The cloud is obviously the place to be, with Apple's hotly-anticipated iCloud service reportedly gathering pace too. Google clearly thinks it's time to plant a flag in the cloud-music market before its rivals get too much of a head start, but it's clear from the name and the lack of record-label deals that Music Beta is a work in progress. 

Google will formally reveal the Music Beta service later today at Google I/O, the search giant's developer conference, which is currently taking place in San Francisco. Keep it Crave for more news from the conference, or watch the keynote presentation streamed live at www.google.com/io, at 5pm Blighty time.

Google has also reached a deal with film studios NBC Universal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros to offer the latest film releases on YouTube. Sadly, they'll only be available in the US for now.

Are you excited about the prospect of cloud-based music? Will you stick your music collection in Google's hands, or does the Big G already own enough of your life? What do you think would be a good name for the service? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook wall.