What Google Could Bring to Digital Music

 There are numerous reports that Google is about to launch a music service.  Whether the rumours have foundation or not I think it is worth reflecting on what role Google could play in digital music and their various assets.  Here are some initial thoughts:

 

  • Google is already a major player in the online music space via YouTube (in Europe, the home of Spotify, more people watch music video online than listen to streaming music)
  • Google shouldn’t (and probably won’t) try to be an ‘iTunes killer’.  The bottom line is that the iTunes / iPod / iPhone ecosystem is successful within that niche, but it is just that, a niche.  The 99 cents download model isn’t a mass market proposition
  • Google has its Android asset to leverage, potentially ensuring it is a truly cross platform music play
  • Google is in a unique position to target music demand at the earliest possible stage i.e. when consumers start searching for music

 

The last point is where I think Google’s core value proposition for the music industry comes in.  Apple can do little about iPod owners downloading from BitTorrent (and our survey data shows they are very likely to do so).  But Google on the other hand can.  Just imagine if when a consumer searches for a song, alongside all of those Torrent results is a heavily integrated Google music offering.

 

Whether or not there is any substance in the current rumours, Google could play a major role in online music.  What will be at front of mind for them though will be learning their lessons from YouTube, i.e. not hemorrhaging cash and not getting bogged down in rights holder spats.  If they have the appetite for it Google could bring something new and incremental to the digital music equation.

Comments

re: What Google Could Bring to Digital Music

From everything I've read it really seems that the mobile music industry is really booming these days, but isn't this just a Google copy of the mobile apps offered by the likes of Spotify/Rhapsody/Last.fm/We.7 etc....?Some good opinions on the mobile music industry here: http://bit.ly/1yGcQR

re: What Google Could Bring to Digital Music

Mobile music isn't booming, it's going through an identity crisis. The operator walled garden OTA stores have proven to fall short of the mark. Yet the more thoughtful next generation of services (Comes With Music, Music Station, Play Now plus, Musique Max etc etc) are finding themselves trumped by Internet services stretching their wings onto mobile without being mobile specific as such cf iTunes, Pandora, Last.FM, Spotify

re: What Google Could Bring to Digital Music

Great writeup, Mark. Many are calling Google's foray into the digital music space an over-hyped development. I personally think it could be the biggest news in the music business for all of 2009.Like you said, Google is in a position to monetize an area that has often been overlooked. Google's search engine has become the default music engine for many fans looking to experience an artist for the first time. It makes complete sense that they should try to exploit this.In fact, this first step in the music discovery process is actually what my business is built around. In a nutshell, we have created Rank 'em ( http://www.gorankem.com ) for music fans to rank their favorite songs from all their favorite artists. When you aggregate the results for each individual artist, it creates a powerful resource that anybody can use whether they are the most casual music observer or the most diehard fanatic.We're not trying to be the IMDB of music. Music is consumed differently, and you wouldn't want to learn the background info on the band before you decide if you like them. With music, you want to know what their best songs are, and ONLY then would you want to learn more about them. That's what Rank 'em is all about!-Adam Wexler