Google Begins Testing Google Music, Hints at Launch

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According to CNET, Google’s finally testing Google Music internally. Does this mean the launch is imminent? Perhaps.

As always, Google employees get first dibs on trying it out, and it’s sounding like it could still be some time before the public has a go. Which begs the question why, after all this time, Google music still hasn’t launched.

The answer’s simple: Because they’re having trouble securing the music.

Insiders say that Google is still negotiating deals with publishers and major record labels. And to complicate matters, they’re also asking for the right to store users’ existing music libraries on their servers, opening up a whole ‘nother can of worms.

Here’s hoping that whatever eventually surfaces, it’ll at least be reasonably similar to Google Music in China, which allows users to stream and download songs legally. The China version, which launched already in 2009, also allows listeners to save and create playlists for future use. Of course there’s always the possibility Google could run afoul of legal red tape here in the U.S. because of more stringent copyright laws.

But assuming that doesn’t happen, the U.S. service would essentially be a music-streaming feature for anyone connected to the Internet. TechCrunch shed some light on it last year, saying that Google hopes it will be an “iTunes killer,” providing listeners with the ability to purchase music and listen to songs once in their entirety.

Industry insiders speculate that the launch could take place at any point from now until May (pending negotiations, of course). Then again, the company was reportedly hoping to debut an embryonic version of Google Music at the recent South by Southwest festival.

Time’s a-tickin’ Google. With other streaming services like Pandora and the Hype Machine currently in pole position, it’s only a matter of time before Spotify catches up and has its U.S. launch, too.

(via CNET)

More on TIME.com:

Spotify to Start Streaming Live Concerts

Apple to Lift One-Time Download Limits for iTunes Songs?

Which Music Service Should You Use? A Quiz

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