As Google turned on the music element of its Google Play digital content platform in certain European markets earlier this week, including the UK, the British publishing rights collecting society PRS For Music confirmed it had entered into a licensing deal with the web giant for both the download store and digital locker elements of the new service.
PRS top man Robert Ashcroft told CMU: “Google Play uses cloud technology to offer millions of users an opportunity to enjoy vast music libraries on devices simultaneously. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Google on this genuinely exciting service. It means we can give consumers across Europe another legal platform to discover our music creators’ work”.
Meanwhile Google’s Head Of International Music Licensing added: “We are excited to be launching our service across Europe this week. Music On Google Play is the first truly cloud-based, free-to-user music service that allows for consumers to have their music libraries available to them from any internet-connected device, and seamlessly synchronised on their Android devices. Google Play makes it easy for users to discover and own even more music through our intuitive interface and cloud locker. It is a whole new way of living with music and technology – and it’s free”.
Google announced last month that its music store, which launched Stateside last year, would arrive in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain this week. The European version of the Google Play digital locker service will launch with scan-and-match functionality, making it easier for consumers to set up a copy of their MP3 collections on Google’s servers.
When the Google locker originally launched in the US the scan-and-match bit was missing, because that extra bit of functionality requires a licence from the music rights owners (a basic locker arguably does not). But the web giant reached a deal with most rights owners regards its locker services a couple of months back, including Warner Music, which was initially a hold out on the Google music platform.
Although, while all the majors and many indie labels are on board with Google Play, the boss of British record label trade body the BPI still used the arrival of the web giant’s music service in the UK this week to again hit out at the web firm for not doing enough to stop unlicensed sources of music appearing high up in Google search results. As previously reported, this has become one of the record industry’s favourite piracy gripes this year, and while Google pledged in August to start downgrading websites that are subject to valid copyright takedown notices in its search ratings, the BPI’s Geoff Taylor says he is yet to see that have any impact.
Taylor told the BBC this week: “We don’t think it makes any sense for them [Google] to be doing something which does support artists and then, on the other hand, undermine artists by referring consumers to illegal sites. We personally think that three months should be long enough to get it [the downgrading of illegal content sources] working”.