Google Inc. is building a music-download store that would work closely with its Google+ social network
and could launch
it within the next two weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.
Users of Google Music, as the service is tentatively named, could recommend
songs in an online library to Google+ contacts, who in turn would be allowed to listen to those songs once free of charge
. The songs would then be available
for sale as MP3 downloads, probably for around the usual 99 cents each.
Digital-music services from Spotify AB and Research In Motion Ltd., too, have recently begun using social network
ing as a word-of-mouth marketing vehicle
. It is too early to know how successful these efforts are at recruiting new customers and retaining existing ones, people in the music industry say, but they add that early signs are encouraging.
Spotify AB和Research In Motion Ltd.的数字音乐服务最近也开始使用社交网站作为口碑宣传工具。音乐界业内人士说，这些举措在吸引新客户、留住老客户方面能有多成功，这一点还有待观察。但他们也说，初步的迹象令人鼓舞。
Google's online library is already up and running
under the name Music Beta. A free service, it lets users upload their music collections to remote
servers, from which they can then listen to their music from any Internet-connected device.
Executives at Google have told people in the music industry that they plan to start the music-download service this week or next week, even though they are unlikely
to secure the rights to sell music from at least two of the four major label groups in time. The song-recommend
ation feature would work only for music released by record labels with Google agreements in place.
Launching a music service without the participation
of all four major label companies can be risky. Users can get turned off quickly if they can't find an artist or a song they want, and the majors distribute
more than 87% of the music sold in the U.S.
The issue is important enough that most online music services, from Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store in 2003 to Spotify this year, have waited to launch
until they had the four of the big music companies on board.