Google in talks with labels over streaming music service -- report

Negotiations point to upcoming service from Google which would offer free unlimited access as well as a subscription model.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
2 min read
When your market cap is north of $263 billion and the company's stock price is hovering around the $800 level, the prevailing question du jour becomes "well, why not?"

So it is that we learn, courtesy of the Financial Times, that Google has been talking with the major music labels about a possible streaming music service. The Times report said that "it is expected that the streaming service will offer a subscription model as well as free unlimited access to songs, supported by advertising, mirroring models adopted by Spotify and Deezer."

What with everyone seemingly talking with the labels these days, this is hardly a surprise. And as the Times correctly notes, Google has operated a music download store in the U.S. which started in 2011. It has since expanded the service to five European countries.

And like Apple, Google can leverage its tablets and smartphones as well as its Android operating system to make a go of it. Actually, file this one under the "nothing new under the sun" category. Indeed, the very same Financial Times reported as far back as 2006 that Google was chatting up music industry executives about "new digital music services that could break Apple's grip on the fast-growing market for legal downloads." Since then, Google's ambitions have grown along with its rivalry with Apple.

It must be fascinating to be a fly on the wall listening to the negotiations as they take place against the background of the music industry's chief lobbying group accusing Google of failing to crack down on pirate music sites. Noting Google's pledge half a year ago to do more, the Recording Industry Association of America said earlier this week that "six months later, we have found no evidence that Google's policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy. These sites consistently appear at the top of Google's search results for popular songs or artists."