Google is close to unveiling its streaming music service, as it prepares to take on Pandora, Spotify, and possibly Apple.
In March, Google signed a deal for two streaming services with Warner Music -- one tied to YouTube, the other to Google's Android music platform, Google Play. And now Google has struck deals with Universal Music as well as Sony Music, according to a report in The Verge, which suggests that Google could make the announcement at tomorrow's big developer conference, Google I/O.
While Google has been working with the music labels on two services, sources tell CNET that the one tied to Google Play is likely to launch first. Either way, it's a potential boon to the music industry as subscription, streaming services have become a growing revenue source.
Spotify in March passed 5 million paying subscribers, and Apple is still deep in negotiations as it tries to launch its Pandora-like service, dubbed iRadio, this summer. Apple reached a deal with Universal, the largest of the three labels, last week, according to people familiar with the deal.
While a Google Play music product could be big, the one music industry execs are most excited by is the one tied to YouTube. The new YouTube product would be designed for the desktop and mobile devices, according to a person familiar with the negotiations between Google and the major labels. Such a mobile offering, coupled with the powerful YouTube brand, could ignite the emerging streaming-music business, now led by Spotify for on-demand music and Pandora for Internet radio.
If YouTube gets the rights to offer a powerful free streaming service on smartphones, it could be a game changer for music streaming. Streaming services accounted for an estimated 10 percent of all digital music revenue last year, according to a report released last week by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and the music labels are banking on rapid growth.