Video Review: Buying & Sharing Music with Google


Last night’s Google Music announcement introduced a legitimate iTunes competitor that not only brings a huge collection of free and paid music to your fingertips, but also offers social sharing of paid music, exclusive tracks from prestigious artists, $25 independent artist integration so that anyone can join, promote and sell their music affordably, and more. One of my favorite features announced is Listen Free, which allows you to share any song or album you buy through Google Music with your Google+ contacts, enabling them to listen to the whole song or album one time, completely free.

Socialization of Music

One could argue that this socialization of music is already deeply rooted in our lifestyle, but there is something very organic about buying it and sharing it in the same process. Not only do people want to show their friends what they have bought at this very instant (call it bragging if you really want) but letting people listen once free of cost is a great way of suggesting great music and naturally promoting it.

You can also add a note to your share, which provides a personal touch that may suit independent artists and special situations best. Imagine buying an indie album and tacking on a note saying, “This is one of my best friends from college! Amazing musician! If you like Sublime, you will love this!” Your Sublime-loving friends would be likely to give it a free listen, and with the personal connection added, may just drop the measly $1 to buy a track (although artists set their own prices).

Socializing for Evil

We’ve seen the “chain mail” crap running rampant recently on social networks. You know, the “post this to your page if…” type nonsense. I’m a little concerned that some rotten person may scheme to falsely socialize their music. Imagine someone by buying their own songs/albums from numerous accounts and sharing them with personal notes such as: “Do you know someone with Cancer? Or who has lost the battle with Cancer? We’re trying to help find a cure… buy our album and 100% of the proceeds will go to Cancer Research.”

Of course, then 0% of the proceeds go to Cancer Research and it becomes very difficult to hold the artist accountable. Whereas people probably lie all the time about where donations truly end up, the deep social integration provides an avenue for preying on the uninformed. So consider this a warning and a plea: I’m asking you – People of the Tech Elite Republic – to publicly squash anything like this should you see it make the rounds.

Prices & Selection

You’ll notice there are two times in the above video where I become a bit… surprised. The first is when I’m browsing through the Top Albums and start wondering how they are at the top of anything. I have no clue how Google chooses what music rises to the top of their charts, but either they’ve got a really stinky algo for Top Music or everyone except me has bad taste. I’m eager to see how these charts change over the coming days and weeks.

I was also surprised by the prices: $20 for The Who album? That’s the type of price I’d expect by walking into Sam Goody. Of course with the ability for artists and labels to set their own prices, you’re going to get a lot of that and it’s up to the consumer to decide “is it worth it”?

I’m guessing that prices are initially inflated. These artists and labels know that Google Music is hot right when it’s announced and people are going to be testing it out, so why not make a few extra bucks on the influx? Meanwhile, other artists take a different approach and leverage that influx by making a track or two free, getting their music into people’s hands and hopefully creating some momentum.

Balancing the Artistic Economy

I have a Slacker subscription and love it. But I’m already an equal fan of Google Music. I’ve already heard tons of complaints and criticism that Google has announced a service that is already behind the curve with people pronouncing, “Streaming is the future!” and, “Why would I pay for music when I can get a complete library for $10/month.”

Music is in a very interesting, middleground, unbalanced state right now with nobody fully understanding the equation of how musicians can and should make money. Is it through selling their actual art- their music? Is it through giving their art away for free and plastering advertising on it and in it? Is it through ticket sales of live events? Is it through related merchandise?

I think we’ve started moving away from the former – artists selling their actual art – but I think that part of the equation is here to stay and rightfully so, for a number of reasons:

  • People like the concept of OWNING something. It says something about them and who they are. Knowing they paid for it and own it provides an intangible value similar to gaining access to a special club. You bought the album, now it’s yours, and that says something about you.
  • The Free Market Rules. People vote with their wallets. If paid music disappears and everyone in the universe pays $10 for a streaming service, it would make it much more difficult for new artists to get noticed and enter the ecosystem. It also puts the POWER in the hands of the STREAMING service. With a service like Google Music, independent artists enjoy a return to power where they can reap the benefits from their hard work and artistic vision.

There is obviously a lot to still learn in the music industry and I’m not claiming myself or Google Music has all the answers. But I do believe that paid music will and should always be some part of the equation. Who knows: maybe in the next few years Google will announce a streaming component that offers their entire music library for free, streaming with ads, for a price without ads, but only those who pay for individual tracks/albums can download and listen locally.

Regardless of how it turns out, I think we’ll be better of for having Google involved in the Music space. Right now iTunes seems to be the only show, and while Apple has done a fantastic job with their music-driven products, healthy competition will move the industry forward. And if there is anything we know from watching the tech space these last few years, it’s that Apple and Google have a knack for pushing each other forward… and well ahead of the competition while they’re at it.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. Has anyone figured out how to shop for music on your phone? Is there going to be a new market update to allow this?

    1. The update to the market app is not out yet.

      1. It is out but it takes a few days for every phone to get it.

  2. How do you share an album to Google+ that you bought before and did not share it out at time of purchase? I cannot find an option for sharing entire album.

    1. Keith, when in google music on the web, click the little arrow to the right of a song title to get a menu. From there you can share or download to your computer.

      1. Thanks Alexander but I am referring to the entire album share not single songs. There are 65 songs in this album. As far as I can tell, you can only share the entire album at time of purchase from the purchase window. If you do not do it there, you cannot share the album, only single songs.

  3. I like this concept so far. I’ve been using the beta for awhile, and I’m looking forward to them making deals with more record companies in the future. The web+android system in place here is very attractive.

  4. How does DOWNLOADING work? I saw him purchase the album. But I did not see him download it to his PC. I am very picky about my music organization, and I would like to keep a copy on my PC or backup drive too.

    Also, can we edit the tags of purchased music? What if I want to change to GENRE or ALBUM ARTIST, etc?

    What if I purchase an album, but later decide I hate it and do not want it to show up on my Library. Can I remove it?

    So many questions …

    1. It downloads as you stream it.  It is available everywhere you have an internet connection so there is no need to keep backups in case your hard drive crashes.  I don’t think you can edit the tags but who really does that?  You can make play list and you can have the app automatically make a playlist off genre or album too.
      You can’t “download” the MP3 yet but it is something that will probably be added to the data liberation page very soon.  Google is pretty open about the fact that your data is yours and you should have the ability to access it whenever and and extract it if you want.

      1. Eric, I think you have your information wrong …

        Looks like you can Download (twice) and edit your purchase music… awesomesauce

        And from another site …
        “And there’s another glitch/gotcha: each song can be streamed, but only downloaded twice via the Web interface. Google recommends that users use the Music Manager application to download the track to avoid this limit—but I couldn’t find an option to download music, only upload it.”,2817,2396520,00.asp#fbid=4OZLyllkQNP

        1. where do you get “Google’s music manager desktop application”

          1. found it


            Visit and click ‘Add Music’ at the top right of the screen.
            Click ‘Download the Music Manager’.
            Navigate to your ‘Downloads’ folder and locate the MusicManager.exe file.
            Double-click on the MusicManager.exe file and click ‘Run’ to begin installation.

  5. guys, let’s not record the screen with a video camera please. there’s plenty of software that will record your desktop and make you guys look 100% more professional (camtasia studio, to name one).

    1. Yeah his MacBook already comes with a program also.

    2. I have camtasia… but then I couldn’t show my phone and my Google TV in the same take and get it online as quickly. 

      1. speed sacrifices quality: you could’ve put the phone video into an editing program and just cut between the footage sources and it wouldn’t have taken too long. just saying.

  6. Also, I’m surprised about prices, but in the opposite sense.  The Rolling Stones bootleg is a steal at $4.99 – and the $20 Who album is for a 3-disc-set…

  7. FYI, The Who album (Quadrophenia) is a 4 disc set, so $20 isn’t that steep. Also, as a professional musician, I’m ELATED to have some competition for itunes and their accompanying control issues. A $25 one time fee also trumps CD Baby’s $25 per album rate- and provides a bigger consumer base. International licensing is the next improvement we need to see.

    1. Well holy smokes… I didn’t realize I bought a 4-disc set lol

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