According a report from Reuters, VP of Engineering Andy Rubin, the man who oversees development of Android for Google, has been engaged in talks with the major record labels about acquiring licenses to sell their catalogs via a new music service the company plans to launch.

Apple Vs. GoogleGoogle Music, as it is tentatively being called, has been rumored for ages now, but no one has known what form the service would take exactly.  The newest rumors seem to focus around it being a cloud-based service, as well as a digital music storage locker, that would allow you to listen to your music when and where you wanted.  Considering someone so highly ranked in the Android hierarchy is involved in the talks, this seems to make sense.  There is also the fact that Google earlier this year acquired music streaming service Simplify, and then shut it down, has left many wondering what the company plans to do with those assets.

For those who don’t remember Simplify, or what exactly it did, it was a program that allowed you to access your iTunes music from a wide range of devices.  You could also invite friends to have access to your account, making an ad hoc music social network.  It seems unlikely with the music labels directly involved that they would approve of the sharing of music, but it is quite possible this is the ground work of Google’s streaming solution.

And it does seem the music executives are excited about this new venture.  A label executive that shared their thoughts on the condition of anonymity said, “Finally here’s an entity with the reach, resources and wherewithal to take on iTunes as a formidable competitor by tying it into search and Android mobile platform.”  They went on to add, What you’ll have is a very powerful player in the market that’s good for the music business.”  However, another anonymous executive was a bit more cautious, saying, “We’re cautiously optimistic because Google has great scale and reach but doesn’t have a track record in selling stuff.”
Apple, via its iTunes product, currently accounts for 70 percent of all digital music sales which has given it far more control over the market than the music labels would like to see.  If a strong competitor was to finally emerge, it would mean the potential for more negotiations on pricing, making the music companies happier, but possibly damaging sales as consumers seem to like the current pricing structure.
As we said, the rumors of this service have circulated for ages, so this doesn’t necessarily mean we are any closer to actually happening.  It does feel a bit more real this time, but only time will tell.
What say you?  Would you be willing to use Google as your digital music source?