Google tends to refer to a wide variety of music-related products as “Google Music.” When the bits hit the hard drive, however, you buy tracks from the Android Market, upload tracks to Google Music (locker), watch music videos on YouTube, and… you get the picture.
And so, even though Google Music is one of the few products launched by the Mountain View behemoth that shifted out of beta within moments, this whole music thing on Google is clearly a work-in-progress.
Recently, Google announced two changes to its products that directly impact not only music rightsholders, but also music consumers.
Most importantly, it should be said that one of these new features offers up the obvious by adding a feature to Google Music accounts that should have been there from the start, while the other obviates the obvious by withholding from account holders functionality that should have been there from the start.
Google Music (locker) accounts are now setup to permit files uploaded to the locker to be downloaded from the locker. In other words, your Googe Music locker now does what it should have done from the beginning!
While the gut reaction of many industry pundits was to compare music lockers to interactive music services (like Spotify), many consumers saw a more basic challenge: backup. For these consumers, lockers are seen as a place to store music collections, collections that in most case have grown to tens-of-gigabytes in size.
Furthermore, while Google liked to present the challenge of moving music from your computer to your Android device as a piece of cake, few cakes (or only the best cakes) involve behaviour as graphic as Mounting other things. Instructing customers to “mount” their mobile phone just did not resonate with the masses. And so Google has tried to simplify the experience.
This new download “feature” simply:
(a) permits the Google locker to match an aspect of Apple’s iCloud (aka, iTunes Match) offering and
(b) enables a locker to to operate like any normal storage device would. Files uploaded to the cloud can be not only accessed but also obtained from that cloud.
If you are domiciled in a country wherein these sorts of copies of copies (of copies) are covered by fair use protections or private copying exemptions or similar, your best course of action is a bottle of scotch.
If, however, you operate in country without such protections or exemptions you probably are hearing the sound of little pennies (or pence) hitting your bank account with each new copy made for each upload to and download from the Google Music Locker.
Without this basic feature, however, Google Music is a less compelling service. So choosing to not license “the download” will deflate the value of “the performance.”