Record Labels Angry Over Google’s Music Beta

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Google Music BetaGoogle launched a beta version of its Music online media storage service earlier this week, and the reaction from record labels has been less than friendly. The music companies had been hoping to strike licensing deals with Google, and were disappointed when the Internet search giant chose to launch Music Beta without any agreements in place, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Music Beta lets users upload music to an online server where it can be played back in a Web browser or through an Android OS-based app. The service is free for now, but eventually Google plans to charge customers a fee.

Negotiations between Google and the record labels apparently failed for several reasons, not the least of which was Google’s own indecision. The company continually changed its online music plans, forcing additional discussions with labels.

The music companies wanted licensing fees upfront from Google, and kept raising their figures when they found out competitors had negotiated better deals. They also wanted to use the negotiations to force Google to block music piracy sites from showing up in Web searches.

Ultimately, Google chose to walk away from the negotiation table and launch its online Music storage service without features that might require record label licensing deals.

The reaction from record labels to Google’s new service wasn’t exactly warm. “People are pissed,” one major record label source said.

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Comments

VaughnSC

The labels want to license what, exactly?

Isn’t Google simply ‘hosting/storing’ what is basically the user’s already-licensed content? Or is this like the BS ‘Music CD’ overhead for potentially unlicensed copies?

I thought it was implicit that digital content requires that the user select/provide the storage media. Does my local backup hard drive have to pay a license fee to hold a copy? If I make an alias/hard link to said content, does that incur an additional fee? Why is ‘cloud storage’ different?

John Molloy

Does my local backup hard drive have to pay a license fee to hold a copy? If I make an alias/hard link to said content, does that incur an additional fee?

Stop giving them ideas… :D

CandTsmac

I say screw em all. Download torrents and send a few bucks to the writers. These Label people must be stopped.

I mean really, it’s just music. The suits do not deserve to be filthy rich because someone else has talent.

FlipFriddle

I’m sure they’re cranky because it was similar to what iTunes did for a shortwhile, where you could stream your music from your home computer to other computers anywhere, effectively creating your own personal radio station. The labels worry that other ears connected to people who have not licensed the music will hear it and that ain’t legal!!! So Apple turned off that feature. It was BS then and it’s BS now.

Typical Google: release something that is half-baked and poorly thought out and call it a “beta” so you have an excuse for the software being crap. Want to start a pool as to how long this is a “beta?”

Android only? Where’s my choice? I was going to try it out. Oh well.

PorthosJon

They are the violin players on the Titanic, the little kid putting fingers in their ears and yelling “la la la” until they are left alone, they are the baby crying because they can’t have their way every time, or pick another metaphor here that you prefer.

Record Labels want to protect their Billions of Dollars.  Nothing more, nothing less.  They see companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon as threats, not business partners.

They used to be the ones that the actual content creators went to so they could be seen and heard.  Now the internet and companies like Apple make it easy for Artists to reach the public directly, without a label.

It is the classic syndrome of the middleman who doesn’t know he’s obsolete and wants to keep yelling and yelling for someone to listen.  They don’t like being irrelevant.

Why don’t they sue Google and Amazon?  Because they would lose.  They have shown no reticence in the past to sue individuals that they think had wronged them for outrageous amounts of money.  Now they are faced with companies that have 10-20-50-100 times their money and they are afraid to sue because it will end up costing them hundreds of millions of dollars and they won’t get a penny back, and they’ll probably end up paying the other sides’ court costs too.

Very soon the record labels will realize they no longer provide a service.  They used to be the recording manager & delivery agent, now bands manage recording themselves and companies like Apple and Amazon deliver actual product.  So what exactly do the labels do anymore to justify taking anyone’s money?

I would rather see a headline that supports artists and not the record labels to the tune of:

-  “Record labels bleating because Google doesn’t agree with their ridiculous claims”
-  “Google launches music beta and record labels protest because they aren’t grubbing any money from it”
-  “Record labels are worth only 10s of Billion$ and are upset that Google and Amazon won’t give them more money”

These may not mention the artists, but when you get rid of a middleman, you always end up passing more money and profit to the content creators.

mhikl

I like to pick on Google but draw the line when it comes to rule changing on the go. No one wins when the rules are agreed upon and then one party slams the other with new changes.
I hope Google can make a go of this cloud design of theirs; and Apple too, what ever it has to offer. Not much can be said about Apple’s parting of the clouds until its service is up and running. Will it be better than the Me thing that collected money and gave so little in return? Have to wait and see. And wait!
Music, book and publishing companies need to change with the times if they are to survive. I don’t see that happening anytime quick.
Greed, in the end, brings Goliath down. The music companies think they hold all the cards.
Rant over. Goin out for a run.

Agree with everything you say, PorthosJon. These guys are following the same trail as Kodak and they are kicking and screaming at their own wake. Time to get the shovel and put this goose to sleep.

RonMacGuy

I still don’t understand what benefit this has.  Any phone today holds thousands of songs.  Why would I want to pay to store my songs anywhere other than my iPhone, iPad, and iTunes on my iMac?  At any point in time I have at least one of the three of these items within my reach.

geoduck

To be fair though maybe calling the service Gnappster wasn’t the best strategy.
LOL

VaughnSC

alling the service Gnappster wasn?t the best strategy

Could have been worse, they might have tried “GnAppStore.”

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I still don?t understand what benefit this has.

You don’t have to sync.

BWilcox

Paying (eventually) to listen to your own music. There’s a sucker born every minute.

daemon

Android only? Where?s my choice? I was going to try it out. Oh well.

Apple rejected Google’s App.

RonMacGuy

You don?t have to sync.

I still don’t understand what benefit this has.

Peter

Android only? Where?s my choice? I was going to try it out. Oh well.

Well, maybe you should consider getting a better phone that has these capabilities…  :^D

Seriously, though, Google has it right.  If I paid for the right to listen to the music, then it doesn’t matter if I’m burning it to a CD to play in my car, downloading it to my iPod to listen to while jogging, or streaming it to my work computer from some online storage.

That said, I am responsible for securing that music.  If I put my music collection up on Google’s servers and then say, “Hey Everybody!  My password is xyzzy!  Check out my tunes!” then the RIAA has every right to squash me like a bug.

RonMacGuy

Sorry, I was being a bit snarky.

Technically, you do have to sync.  If I bought a CD from the store, I would still have to take my songs from the CD and then “sync” to the Google “storage service” to then have access to all my songs.  Really no different than syncing iTunes to my iPhone the first (and only) time.  Then, my music is with me with no need to deal with wifi or 3G to listen to my music.

kevinlane

I understand why some people might want to have this capability. However, I probably would not use it, and I would never pay for it.  As stated above, I have my music on my devices, and one of them is always with me.  As for not having to sync, I don’t understand the desire some have of not ever having to sync their device.  How else will you perform backups?  It takes seconds, anyway. 

As for the record labels, no recording artist HAS to use them to get their music out.  But many (especially the young up-and-comers) do because - SURPRISE - they get the big bucks up front. 

The record companies will die when the artists truly can do without them - not the consumers.

But even if that were to happen tomorrow, the labels already own so much of what consumers buy (as in classics like the Beatles etc.) to stay in business for years.

RonMacGuy

Seriously, though, Google has it right.

So Peter, you are willing to pay Google for this “service” each month to listen to music that you already own and most likely carry around with you on your iPhone/android phone?

Maybe this service is for those who don’t carry smartphones, but even basic phones now have music capability.

But hey, Google is way smarter than little old me, so have at it - I just won’t be a customer!!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Yes, you have to sync once for content you provide. However, let’s say you’re on vacation and your music player craps out or gets stolen. Wait, let’s go with gets stolen. You buy a replacement, log in, and all your music is there. At the same time, you disable the previous music player or even report it missing or stolen. It’s now unusable and a thief can’t take content that might be tagged with your account information and throw it up on the torrents.

Here’s where the ball is really moving though… It depends on cheap and ubiquitous bandwidth, which is now true of WiFi, and will probably be true of 3G/4G in 18-24 months. You have a hybrid model of cloud storage for your entire library and local storage for your favorites. Mass market purchases and acquisitions (such as specific song recordings from a label or podcasts from a podcaster) are stored once (and mirrored) in the cloud, with your account having access to the ones you own. Niche purchases (not widely sold) and your own uploaded content (recordings, videos, etc.) are in the cloud also and more stringently backed up. You would pay for the amount and reliability of storage.

Gifting would be easy. I could buy you the latest Rise Against album and it would just appear in your content inventory for you to access when you like. Maybe you’d like to rent an album for a week or a month. That’s doable too without ridiculous client-side DRM. Maybe you’d like to secure broadcast or public performance rights. Again, manageable and doable with devices that would indicate such rights.

You get a new device, you sign in, and you have access to your content. You borrow a friend’s device for the day, she logs out, you log in. Her content is safe from you. Your content is available to you. You always have the option of getting a playlist or some other content cached locally if you expect to be away from the cloud. And the device might know what content you access frequently enough to push it local anyway.

@Peter: I think what you’ll find with these systems is that: (1) You’ll pay for storage or bandwidth or something in a way to discourage such sharing. (2) You’ll have to give access to more than a few songs, which makes giving access outside a very trusted circle a bad plan. (3) The cloud storage will detect this pretty easily.

VaughnSC

Maybe you?d like to rent an album for a week or a month.

Yeah, and maybe the labels will then decide that all music should be ‘rented’ and stop selling it. It’s bad enough that digital media has cost us many rights established in the ‘First-Sale Doctrine,’ such as resale and lending.

vpndev

While Google and Amazon are heading towards streaming, AT&T and Verizon are implementing data caps. These aren’t a problem for wired networks yet because the caps are relatively high. But that’s not so on 3G/4G. Streaming to iPhone will get expensive when the caps are lowered, as they surely will be.

We effectively have a duopoly today in wireless and Verizon and AT&T know there’s more money to be had from customers.

Tiger

Peter, there is a fallacy with your premise. All is not equal on paid transactions for music. Much depends on knowing up front what you are and aren’t getting.

I pay for my music on Sirius. Just the basic monthly charge. About $17 I think. But I haven’t paid for the right to record it, save it to my HD, burn it to an iPod, etc. Even adding the additional $3 per month for the computer listening privilege doesn’t give me the right to record and reuse the songs.

Now, if a service wants to set itself up such that it charges enough from consumers to actually pay the royalty and licensing fees and still make a profit, more power to them, but what user is going to pay that much? So much of this comes down to the individual thinking “well, it’s just a song” and not realizing it is a marketable, sellable commodity that requires payment. Hence all the piracy of music over the past decade. The advent of lossless digital copying created a catch 22 for both artists and music companies. The old system can’t adapt, and the new system leaves artists fending for themselves, never getting to do tours and such without actually either signing with a company, or creating their own. Music is money.

But then, I’m preaching to the choir now.

RonMacGuy

Yes, you have to sync once for content you provide. However, let?s say you?re on vacation and your music player craps out or gets stolen. Wait, let?s go with gets stolen. You buy a replacement, log in, and all your music is there. At the same time, you disable the previous music player or even report it missing or stolen. It?s now unusable and a thief can?t take content that might be tagged with your account information and throw it up on the torrents.

Here?s where the ball is really moving though? It depends on cheap and ubiquitous bandwidth, which is now true of WiFi, and will probably be true of 3G/4G in 18-24 months. You have a hybrid model of cloud storage for your entire library and local storage for your favorites. Mass market purchases and acquisitions (such as specific song recordings from a label or podcasts from a podcaster) are stored once (and mirrored) in the cloud, with your account having access to the ones you own. Niche purchases (not widely sold) and your own uploaded content (recordings, videos, etc.) are in the cloud also and more stringently backed up. You would pay for the amount and reliability of storage.

Gifting would be easy. I could buy you the latest Rise Against album and it would just appear in your content inventory for you to access when you like. Maybe you?d like to rent an album for a week or a month. That?s doable too without ridiculous client-side DRM. Maybe you?d like to secure broadcast or public performance rights. Again, manageable and doable with devices that would indicate such rights.

You get a new device, you sign in, and you have access to your content. You borrow a friend?s device for the day, she logs out, you log in. Her content is safe from you. Your content is available to you. You always have the option of getting a playlist or some other content cached locally if you expect to be away from the cloud. And the device might know what content you access frequently enough to push it local anyway.

You certainly have thought this through, I’ll give you credit.  For me, if my iPhone is stolen, I would log into MobileMe and wipe the contents of the phone.  Done.  I buy my new iPhone, plug into my Mac and, voila, everything is as it was before, except I’m out a ton of money.  grin

As for your “bandwidth” I don’t see how you think 4G will be “cheap and ubiquitous” but OK.  Where your “ball is really moving” seems very complicated to me.  Maybe I’m just a simpleton, but I have all my music all synced up on iMac/iPhone/iPad, and if I hear a song I like, I purchase on one device via iTunes and as I charge my devices it syncs and backs up the song between the three, as well as iTunes keeping record that I bought it from their cloud and I can download again if needed.  Don’t really care about “mass market” songs vs. “niche” purchases - huh?  Gifting?  Renting?  If I like a song, I plop down a buck and I own it.  Forever.  If I’m not crazy about a song, I wait until I hear it on the radio again.  I want to give a gift?  I buy someone an iTunes gift card.

“Secure broadcast or public performance rights” - huh?  I get a new device - I wipe my old iPad clean and sell it for a pretty good price (given current demand levels) and buy a new iPad 2, plug it into iMac, and it charges and syncs exactly how I like it.  Songs, movies, videos, apps, etc.  Borrow a friend’s device?  Why?  I always have my cell phone with me.  Why borrow someone’s device except maybe to hear a song they have so I can decide if I want to pay $1 to buy it.  And I would rather they have the song locally so if I listen to it I don’t feel guilty using their expensive 4G bandwidth to listen to one of their songs.  Don’t want to rent it.  Don’t want to borrow it from them.  If I like it, and it only costs $1, I will buy it, since the performer of the song deserves to make money on it.

I know, I am an ancient 43 year-old music caveman.  These fancy terms like “mass market”, “niche”, “secure broadcast”, and “public performance rights” confuse me.  I’m just a caveman!!  Me want music.  Me like to listen.  Me no want cloud storage service!!  Me no like android.  Apple good.  Ugh.

VaughnSC

as well as iTunes keeping record that I bought it from their cloud and I can download again if needed

While I agree with your sentiment, Alley Oop; I think you’re mistaken on that one quoted point. You do not get to re-download purchases as far as I recall.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

“Public performance rights”—> DJs, for example, are supposed to secure correct licenses for playing music in a public performance. Retail stores, even your dentist’s office, same thing. The music industry (ASCAP and BMI) often come through local communities and make “visible” licensing sweeps. For example: it is a huge freakin problem to manage compliance for a small bar slash club with independent DJs coming in night after night.

Imagine an account that was licensed for public performance, and could access the cloud on any consumer device. The software could display the license as needed to ensure anyone involved that it is correct. Plug it into the sound system and legally play music for the venue.

I think there is going to be a strong push and a strong demand for these cloud systems that let users access data from any device. It’s like taking “private browsing” in your favorite browser as a way to use someone else’s computer to get your stuff to its logical conclusion.

For my workflow, it makes tremendous sense with music and video, probably not so much with email and documents. I imagine we’ll all be somewhere on the continuum for various tasks.

VaughnSC

The software could display the license…

There’s a big difference between DJs at a club and playing some music at your backyard barbecue:

Lumping all users together (one fee fits all) would be discriminatory.

Having different license levels would require some ‘Digital Rights Management,’ which you were lambasting a few posts back.

VaughnSC

The software could display the license…

There’s a big difference between DJs at a club and playing some music at your backyard barbecue:

Lumping all users together (one fee fits all) would be discriminatory.

Having different license levels would require some ‘Digital Rights Management,’ which you were lambasting a few posts back.

RonMacGuy

@VaughnSC, I stand corrected.  But, of course, having my music replicated across iMac/iPhone/iPad (as well as Time Machine backups) greatly reduces the chance of losing my purchased music.

@Bosco, I agree with your example but disagree with the “going to be a strong push and a strong demand” comment.  Techies and DJs hardly represent the majority.  And, it will take a lot to turn the tide of 200,000,000+ iTunes accounts/credit cards Apple has on file.  IIRC, Apple is still running 70%+ of the digital download music market.  Online media storage services will need to really demonstrate some strong benefits to change how hundreds of millions of iDevice people listen to music today.  In my opinion.

Of course, you will (in typical fashion) look at growth from 10 users to 10,000 users and quote the incredible growth rate being shown as reason for Apple’s impending doom…  wink

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Having different license levels would require some ?Digital Rights Management,? which you were lambasting a few posts back.

No, licensing rights and DRM are entirely independent issues. No DRM knows whether your music player is plugged into headphones or the sound system for a 10,000 seat arena.

@RonMacGuy: All those Android phones that are not outshipping iPhones by more than 3:2 have very capable music players that are not served by iTunes. There is plenty of market opportunity for store-once, access many, never have to sync systems.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Of course, you will (in typical fashion) look at growth from 10 users to 10,000 users and quote the incredible growth rate being shown as reason for Apple?s impending doom??

Horse feathers. I will require that cloud music models move toward taking future sales at a 3:2 clip over Apple’s way before saying Apple will trend to a niche. You know, just like phones.

VaughnSC

No DRM knows whether your music player is plugged into headphones or the sound system for a 10,000 seat arena.

Only as long as they don’t shove a switch from analog to digital down our gullets.

Witness the forced march to HDMI cables/devices with HDCP: I’ll bet someone will move to replace our ‘archaic, cumbersome/fragile audio cables’ with Bluetooth and/or Wireless USB Audio (with protocols baked in to thwart uncertified/DAconverter/pro/recording devices)

RonMacGuy

There is plenty of market opportunity for store-once, access many, never have to sync systems.

Ah yes, the android smartphone buyers who are too cheap in general to actually pay for apps (and would rather be inundated with advertisements while playing their games) will be lining up in droves to pay for Google to store their music for them.  Maybe Google will implement a 30 second commercial that you must listen to before you can actually play a song that you freaking already own!!  “You requested to play your song ‘Money’ by Pink Floyd.  A great place to save your money is with the Google Federal Credit Union!!”  Wow, I hope Google isn’t reading this!!  LMAO.

Regarding your favorite 3:2 reference - shouldn’t android be outselling iPhone by 3:1 by now to achieve your predicted year-end ratio?  Gentlemen, start your back-pedaling!  1 out of every 4 smartphones sold today is an iPhone.  Only 2 models.  Until recently, only 1 color.  Until recently, only 1 carrier.  Only 1 size.  1 out of every 4.  Your walled garden preaching is having little impact…  That’s got to be driving you nuts!!

RonMacGuy

@RonMacGuy: All those Android phones that are not outshipping iPhones by more than 3:2 have very capable music players that are not served by iTunes.

Bosco, I am assuming that you meant “android phones that are now outshipping…” and not “not outshipping.”

Latest news on android:  android 2.3 has been released for 5 months now but has only been installed on 4% of android devices. 4%?!?!?  Really?

And from appolicious.com: “Yesterday, the functionality to rent movies on Honeycomb tablets and desktop computers was introduced with a promise to bring the mobile devices running 2.2+ up to speed within the next couple weeks. This has been available through iTunes for so long that I don?t even consider it a feature.” Promises, promises, promises.

And, although available for months on iPhones/iPads, Netflix is now FINALLY available for android! But wait, it is available on just 5 handsets (the Samsung Nexus S, and the HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G and G2) and Netflix is “feverishly working on adding more devices to that list, but as of now the rest of the android nation ? including tablet users ? will just have to wait.” (quote from yahoo news).  Isn’t there like over 300 different types/models of android devices worldwide?  Wow, don’t hold your breath…

Wow, this is pretty pathetic.  If this garbage is what life is like outside the “walled garden” then I say, keep me safe inside the garden!!

anon

Typical Google: release something that is half-baked and poorly thought out and call it a ?beta? so you have an excuse for the software being crap. Want to start a pool as to how long this is a ?beta??
Android only? Where?s my choice? I was going to try it out. Oh well.

I’m not sure you have a clear understanding of what “beta” means.  The POINT is that it’s half-baked, which is why they aren’t charging until it comes out of beta.  In the mean time, they can get thousands of users to test it out, see if it holds up to daily usage, and ideally provide feedback when it doesn’t so the google music team can improve upon it.  Half-baked though it may be, I’ve been using it on my laptop (I don’t have an android yet), I would presonally say the software is far from being crap.  That’s just my opinion of course, so if you’re using it and you think it’s crap, tell the team why, and hopefully they’ll make it better.

Apple has always only made iTunes available on PCs and Apple products.  In fact, as far as PCs go, it might only be available for Windows and Mac operating systems.  I could be wrong, but I haven’t heard of any version of iTunes available for Linux distros.

Regarding your claim to a lack of choices and google music being “Android only,” that only refers to mobile apps.  Google has said that Music Beta is available on any platform that supports flash content.  In otherwords, you can use it from any computer with your internet browser, as well as on some non-android phones and tablets.  Just not iPhone or iPad.  I’d say those are sufficient options for most people who aren’t limiting theirselves to only Apple products, in which case, they’re probably already streaming their music to their mobile devices from iTunes on their computer at home.

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