|Apple's iMatch cloud service went live this week; look for Google's music store Wednesday.|
Cloud-based music services take another step forward this week with advances from both iTunes and Google.
Apple's iTunes went live with its iMatch service, which for $24.99 a year will sync your music library of songs, movies, and other media not purchased from iTunes, placing a high-quality version of songs you own on the company's servers. (If Apple doesn't have a copy of a song, you can simply upload it.) Note: you must have iOS5 and iTunes 10.5.1 to use iMatch.
As Apple notes:
"...iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to iCloud for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 20 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are, your music is already in iCloud. And for the few songs that aren't, iTunes has to upload only what it can't match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. Once your music is in iCloud, you can stream and store it to any of your devices. Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality—even if your original copy was of lower quality."
With the other music cloud services, Amazon Cloud Drive/Cloud Player and Google Music Beta, you have to upload songs yourself to the services if you want them to be part of your play-anywhere library.
Google's options may change, because on Nov. 17th the company is set to launch the Google Music Store. It's been working hard behind the scenes to get the major music labels on board so it can legally sell and store music from their artists.
Google is said to have recently reached a licensing deal with Sony, giving it access to most of the big music companies (Universal and EMI [which Universal bought last week], in addition to Sony). Google has not yet inked a deal with Warner Music Group. Google has also reached agreement with Merlin Network, which represents 18,000 musicians on independent labels such as Merge and those of the Beggars Group, according to the L.A. Times.
Google's service will be like that of Amazon and iTunes, CNBC says, and will work with Google Music Beta. But it says Google something the others don't offer: "customers will be able to share songs they've purchased with friends, using Google+. Those friends can listen to a song a few times before they must buy it themselves."
I'll be watching for Google's announcement on Wednesday to see how these and other predictions pan out. Of particular interest to me is that Google will supposedly have access to all that indie music.