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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 5, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Report: Google signs first label for streaming music service

Google has its first major music label on board for subscription music services it hopes to launch this summer, according to a Billboard report.

Warner Music is licensing its music to Google for streaming through a YouTube music service and a separate service coming to its Google Play platform, Billboard reported today.

The story includes confirmation by a Google/YouTube spokesman that the company is looking at content subscription plans.

Reports of Google’s plans for a subscription music service have trickled out over the past month as the company began working with music publishers.

Google will compete against all sorts of companies that charge monthly fees for unlimited access to music services, a category pioneered by Seattle-based Rhapsody.

The revenue from music services would be relatively small for Google, raising the question of why the search giant should even bother.

But a music service would round out the native offerings on Google’s platforms, including Android, Google TV and new streaming media devices that it’s exploring, especially since rivals Microsoft, Sony and Amazon.com have streaming services of their own. It may also be part of Google’s reported plans to build a shopping/media service similar to Amazon Prime.

Having a music service available may even complement the company’s effort to develop digital eyewear.

A music service could also nudge more users of Google devices and free services to register with not just their identities, but also their credit cards, making it easier for Google to directly monetize and upsell users with additional products and services.

Still, you’ve got to wonder why Google doesn’t just buy Rhapsody, Spotify or another service that already has deals with most record labels and lots of paying subscribers.

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