There’s a new, potentially major player in the consumer music business.
On October 29th, Google announced that Warner Music Group agreed to sell songs through Google’s own Play service, a mobile store available on Android devices. The announcement is by no means a surprise, but it’s an important step for the growing music service: Google now has agreements with all three major U.S. music labels.
The Big Three are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. Universal Music Group also owns the extensive catalog of EMI, which was the fourth major label before its acquisition in early 2012.
The Play store will now have a near-complete library of popular music, on par with Apple’s iTunes music store and Amazon’s Cloud Player. Amazon is Google’s more immediate competitor due to the Cloud Player’s popularity with Android users, but Google certainly has its long-term sights set on the iTunes behemoth.
Google will need a clever approach to overthrow Apple’s hold on online music sales. The NPD Group reports that iTunes had a 64 percent market share of digital music sold in the second quarter of 2012, compared to Play’s market share of less than 5 percent. However, Google’s agreement with Warner Music Group should bring some attention to the Play brand and a stronger library of songs to Android users.
Google announced the Play agreement along with new 7-inch and 10-inch Nexus tablets and a 4-inch Nexus smartphone. All three devices feature Android 4.2, the latest version of the Android operating system.