Speculation was raging in the hours leading up to Google’s Music announcement on Wednesday. Will Google Music kill Spotify? iTunes? Pandora? Amazon? The more likely and arguably more important scenario seems to be the death of the Music Labels.
But let’s rewind for a moment. Google essentially announced what Ubuntu One has been doing for 18 months and later replicated by Amazon – a cloud powered music store and music streaming service – with a couple of important “tweaks”; sharing purchased music with anyone on Google+; and Artist Hub, a platform for independent artists to distribute their content (music, interviews, live concert recordings, etc) directly to consumers. In other words, one of the slickest examples of social music (just look at the reaction to Christina Warren’s music shares moments after the announcement) and a direct-to-consumer distribution platform powered by the combined audience of Google search, Google+, YouTube and Android.
The latter is the killer tweak – and that which could lead to the death of the music labels (and MySpace’s final breath, but who cares). Or at least, the music labels as we know them today – while none of them could ever match the volume and economics of Google’s audience reach, they could certainly become Google service providers in the areas of merchandizing and concert/event organizers. Maybe they already have, but that’s a question for Universal/EMI and Sony Music.
Of course, none of this is relevant if Google Music remains a US-only service for too long.
(Disclaimer: I work for Canonical and on Ubuntu One. These are my personal views.)