As of today, Google has officially launched Google Music, its free digital music service, which will incorporate user recommendation features and connectivity with the Google+ social network. Previously available in limited pre-release form to select beta testers, the company also plans to compete with Apple on mobile devices by selling users songs via its online storefront, the Android Market.
Available throughout the U.S., users can upload up to 20,000 songs or add purchased tunes to the cloud, where tracks are made available for streaming to Web browsers and Android apps on-demand. Fans will further have the option to listen to 90-second previews or buy millions of songs directly from the Android market. Beyond offering instant wireless access to tunes, the service will also let listeners suggest new music that others will like. Purchased picks can be broadcast directly to Google+, which friends in your social circles can listen to in their entirety for free.
Enjoying support from myriad music labels including EMI, Sony and Universal, plus a variety of indie outfits, Google Music aims to offer a free song every day. The service will additionally feature exclusive material such as live concerts and recordings from top acts like The Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, Shakira and Coldplay, including a new studio album from hip-hop stalwart Busta Rhymes.
Despite racing to reach last-minute licensing agreements with record labels, Google appears to have crossed the finish line. It now finds itself right back at the initial starting grid though, in what promises to be a long, soon to be hard-fought marathon with rival iTunes.