Android, meet your not-so-shockingly exposed dance partner, Google Music, and Google, meet another Google Music store rumor roundup, this one bolstered by screens that may indeed depict the upcoming Google-powered online music boutique.
We’ve heard rumblings about a Google Music store all year, since before Google launched its Google Music cloud service last May. But Google Music arrived, ironically, music-free—a blank online storage locker into which Google hoped users would pour unlocked tunes ripped direct from personal media or rival services. The theoretical reason: Google hasn’t been able to shore up relations with labels, prompting it to forestall Google Music’s “store” component. Until now, the service has looked the online equivalent of a Self Storage acreage.
(MORE: Google Music Store ‘Close’ According to Google SVP)
That may all change this week. The Wall Street Journal said as much weeks ago, citing music executives in the biz, who claimed Google would launch a music store at some point between late October and early November. What’s more, the service is said to include Google+ integration, giving it a social networking leg up. For instance, users of the service would have the option to recommend songs in their online library to Google+ contacts, giving those contacts the option to listen to the songs once for free. After that, the MP3-format songs would cost in the vicinity of 99 cents each.
Last Friday, CNET suggested Google would announce its long-rumored music download service at a press event on Wednesday, November 16, but that the launch would occur without publishers Sony and Warner onboard (though talks are said to be ongoing). On the other hand, Google appears to have things tied up with Universal Music Group, and possibly EMI as well.
And on Saturday, Spanish tech site TecnoDroidVe published what it claims are screens from Google’s anticipated music service “running on the Android Market.” The site claims that by “doing tricks” Google’s new music service was accessible on the author’s HTC Inspire 4G. The author goes on to claim the ability to “play previews of songs” but not purchase them. The following day, the author claimed to have discovered the option to open a “free song of the day” (see shot up top), comparing it to Apple’s iTunes freebie music feature.
Google’s two chief competitors in this space are Amazon and Apple, both of which offer access to compressed MP3 music—available as songs or full albums—from extensive music catalogues. Neither service offers original CD-quality versions, otherwise known as “lossless” media, and it doesn’t sound like Google’s Music store will buck this trend (sorry audiophiles).
T-minus two days and counting to Google’s media event, and the probable opening salvo in what looks to be a three-way online music war.
MORE: Google Quietly Drops Elegant Google Music Web App
Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.