Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Music Notes: Google Music Beta Announced; Groupon & Live Nation to Offer Discount Concert Tickets

Google Music is now in beta, and you can apply to be part of it.

The music landscape continues to shift and change, the last couple of days have seen several big companies jockeying for position.

* Google announced its music streaming service today at the Google I/O conference (a meeting of Google software developers). The service, currently called Google Music beta, is in limited use now, but when it goes live it will be interesting to see how it stacks up against Amazon's cloud player and cloud drive, which the online store launched last month. Ironically Apple, which is the 800-pound gorilla in selling music online, has yet to stake its claim in the streaming/music cloud turf.

The Google music service is similar in some ways to Amazon's cloud player. It will let users stream music and rent movies over their Android devices. According to the L.A. Times, users will be able to upload up to 20,000 songs to their computers and mobile devices. Unlike Amazon, however, users will not be able to buy music from Google's service. Amazon allows customers to buy music and other digital content and immediately store it on their cloud account. Users of Google Music beta will have to manually upload the music they already own to the service.

An interesting note is that Google, like Amazon, does not have licensing deals with the music labels for streaming the content, and decided to proceed without it. This could raise certainly some legal issues. You can sign up for the Google Music beta at music.google.com/about.

The Times article says that at first the Google music service will be available by invitation and only in the U.S., and will be free in beta. It's not clear what charges there may be when the service comes out of beta.

* Groupon and Live Nation are teaming up for discount concert tickets. The group-buying concept of Groupon and LivingSocial has been a huge hit for all kinds of products and services, and now it's coming to concert tickets. The service, called GrouponLive, was rolled out on Monday, and will officially launch in the summer, according to an article in the L.A. Times — just in time for the outdoor concert season. "GrouponLive will sell tickets to Live Nation concerts, as well as for companies that sell tickets for concerts, sports, plays and other events through the Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster," the article says.

You can sign up for GrouponLive at www.groupon.com/live.

The live music industry has been clobbered the last few years. While some big-name acts have done well, many others have had to pare back or cancel their tours. Live Nation is no doubt hoping to use discounts to boost sales that have slowed in part due to what's perceived as ticket prices that are too high in a soft economy. There was widespread discounting at outdoor venue shows last summer, with places such as New Jersey's PNC Arts Center offering $40 lawn tickets for $10 for some shows.

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