Google recently unveiled its long-awaited music store that will offer more than 13 million tracks, instant access to purchased music in your online storage locker and several free music promotions. The search giant also announced that Google Music has graduated from its beta testing period and is now available for public sign-ups in the United States.
Similar to online music offerings from Amazon and Apple, Google Music includes an online storage locker where you can upload up to 20,000 songs for free. You can also purchase music through the Android Market either through your mobile device or PC -- an updated Android Market should be rolling out to your Android devices soon. Any music you buy from Google shows up in your online storage locker and does not count against your 20,000 song limit.
Google Music's public launch means the service is now competing against Amazon's Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and Apple's recently launched iTunes Match. All three services offer online access to your music and easy integration with an online music store. The biggest thing Google has going for it right now is that it's the cheapest option, although Amazon and Apple won't exactly break the bank at their current costs of $20 and $25 per year, respectively.
If you're thinking about getting started with Google Music here are five things you need to know about the new online music service.
Google+: Purchased sharing only
As previous reports had claimed, you can now share complete Google Music tracks with your friends on Google+, but only for songs purchased from the music store in Android Market. Any music you've uploaded to Google's servers does not qualify for Google Music's share feature. As an alternative, you can share a short clip from songs in Google's music store in Google+.
No Warner music
Google's new music store has more than 13 million tracks, but the company has yet to cut a deal with Warner Music Group. That means artists such as Bruno Mars, Christina Perri and Death Cab for Cutie are not available. But artists from the other major music labels including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and EMI Music are available.
Storage remains free
When Google launched Music Beta it suggested its free music locker service would only be free for a limited time. That, however, does not appear to be the case. You will still get to store 20,000 songs for free, and music purchased from the Android Market will not count against your 20,000 limit. Apple has a similar policy for its 25,000 song limit with iTunes Match, which costs $25 per year. Amazon's Cloud Drive is currently offering unlimited music storage for MP3 files uploaded to Amazon along with 20GB of cloud storage for other files for $20 per year.
Google Music has been offering free music to users since its beta period, but the company plans to get more aggressive with free music offerings in the coming weeks. Free music plans include tracks from The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Busta Rhymes, Shakira, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band and Tiesto. T-Mobile customers are also getting some exclusive free music from Google Music including songs from Busta Rhymes, Drake and Maroon 5. It's not clear whether these free songs will eventually roll out to other Google Music users.
If you want to download music to your PC that you've purchased through the Android Market, you can either download them through your Web browser or use Google's music manager desktop application. To download via the Web click on the dropdown menu for the track you want to download and select "Save to computer" under "Purchased Options." Google will only let you download a particular track through your Web browser twice. You can get around this limit by using the Google Music Manager desktop application to download tracks to your computer. But in my tests Music Manager did not yet have the option to download tracks directly from Google Music and could only upload your music to Google's servers.