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Google MP3 store coming within weeks?

The big G is in negotiations with major record labels to launch an MP3 store to compete with Apple and Amazon, according to rumours.

Google may have already introduced Music Beta (in the US, at least), but now it's planning an MP3 store to compete with Amazon and Apple, The New York Times reports.

It's in negotiations with the major record labels, according to the paper, and the service may come before Apple launches iTunes Match, so could well be here in the next few weeks. Music to our ears.

The New York Times cites executives who "spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were private and continuing." They said the store would be very likely to connect to Music Beta, which lets lucky US users back up their tunes online and stream to their devices. So we could see a real challenger to iTunes Match here.

Whether it beats iTunes Match to launch -- expected to be before the end of the year -- remains to be seen. Google's previous negotiations with music labels, for a smart locker service to link your music collection to a central database, broke down over financial terms and complaints Google wasn't doing enough to stop piracy. Perhaps then Google may not be able to wee on Apple's bonfire quite as much as it hopes.

"We want to make sure the locker doesn't become a bastion of piracy," the paper quotes a senior label executive as saying. The music industry has been hit hardest by piracy, so it's understandable the labels want to protect their interests.

Google would need permission from the labels to license music, in order to offer a decent selection. It failed to for Music Beta, so had to offer a scaled-down version which you can't actually buy tunes from. Google executives also publicly criticised the labels for blocking the deal. Apple, however, has licences for iTunes Match, so can link a user's song to Apple's massive database. Amazon Cloud Drive lets you access your tunes from the cloud too, though again it's only in the US at the moment.

Would you like to see a Google music store? Let us know on our Facebook page, along with what Google's anthem should be. Something by The Searchers?