Google took the wraps off its long-anticipated music store at a special event this evening, and the web giant's first stab at music retail is now up and running.
Google's music store is designed to go hand-in-hand with the cloud music solution the company rolled out in the spring— without backing from the major labels. That cloud service, formerly known as Google Music Beta, is now just Google Music, and two of the three majors have signed up to support the new retail efforts (Sony and Universal, but no Warner). Over 13 million songs are available to purchase from the store.
In somewhat of a surprise move, Google announced a partnership with T-Mobile that will allow the wireless carrier's customers to bill their music purchases directly to their phone bill.
In a new music section of the Android Market, songs are sold for the standard $.99-$1.29. Google will give you CD-quality 320kbps versions of songs, however, as compared with iTunes's 256 AAC standard. You also get generous 90-second previews of the full collection.
Since it's an extension of Android Market, Google's music store is mobile friendly right out of the gate. ln fact, it might be more mobile-friendly than desktop-friendly. The mobile app shines, whereas the Web version looks a little stale for our tastes.
To mix things up a bit, Google is expanding the editorial side of things with integrated artist interviews and videos under its magazine-like "Magnifier" banner. There's also customizable artist pages, which give musicians a platform to communicate directly with fans.
As you might expect, much of what you do on Google Music can be fed back to your Google+ circles as well. And if you buy a song, your friends will be able to preview it on the site in full.
Play around with Google's new music offerings yourself here.