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In a bid to grab market share from Apple’s iTunes, Google Music has gone live in the US, offering a digital streaming service which can also store up to 20,000 of the tracks users already own. It is not yet available in Australia, or any other country outside the US, due to territorial copyright concerns.

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Google said it will begin selling music online and to Android smartphone users, with a service that will enable buyers to share their purchases with friends on the Google+ social network.

“Other music services think you have to pay to listen to music you already own. We don’t,” said Jamie Rosenberg, Google’s director of Android digital content, while unveiling the latest version of Google Music at a media event in Los Angeles.

That was a dig at Apple, which has a similar offering in the US, dubbed iTunes Match, but charges $25 a year for its use. ITunes Match, unlike Google Music, notes what songs exist on a computer, and finds a match on its Music Store.

Google will expand its focus on digital music to include millions of tracks for sale in the Android Market. It plans to offer 8 million initially with the promise of 13 million total in the near future.

 

Each track will be sold as a 320Kbps MP3 file, and pricing ranges from 99 US cents to US$1.29 per song – exactly matching iTunes pricing.

Google has secured major label partners, specifically Sony, EMI and Universal Music, as well as “thousands” of indie labels. Missing however is major label Warner Music.

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