Google's online music store that hopes to rival the success of Apple's iTunes, Google Music, has been made available in the US.
The service was initially made available in a closed Beta test in the US in May and at the time enabled users to upload their personal music collection of up to 20,000 tracks to the cloud so they can be streamed on any device running Google Android 2.2 or above. However now the service has been expanded to include the ability to purchase tracks from a new music store available via the Android Market and extended to all US residents.
Google said the store offers more than 13 million tracks from artists on Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, and the global independent rights agency Merlin as well as over 1,000 prominent independent labels. However, the search engine failed to secure a deal with Warner Music so far, which means their artists and tracks are unavailable through the service.
Tracks can be downloaded in MP3 format encoded at 320Kbps with prices ranging from $0.69 to $1.99.
"You can purchase individual songs or entire albums right from your computer or your Android device and they'll be added instantly to your Google Music library, and accessible anywhere," Google said in a blog.
Both purchased and uploaded tracks are automatically synced across all devices and users can also specify which albums, artists and playlists they want to listen to when offline as well.
Furthermore, the search engine said there's a range of exclusive content available from the likes of The Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Busta Rhymes and it has also added the ability to share tracks with friends of its social network, Google+.
"Good music makes you want to turn up the volume, but great music makes you want to roll down the windows and blast it for everyone. We captured this sentiment by giving you the ability to share a free full play of a purchased song with your friends on Google+," the search engine added.
At present the service is only available in the US as Google has not signed deals with record labels outside the country. The search engine did not reveal when it hoped Google Music would be rolled out to the UK and other countries.
Ben Drury, CEO at online music store7digital said Google's long overdue entry in the market is "welcome".
"It wasn't that long ago that the recorded music industry was being written off and that legitimate digital music services had no chance against piracy," he said.
However, he added: "Google's acquisition of Motorola earlier in the year and the role as market leader in mobile OS's show Google Music will be focused on Android, and by default Motorola. Google is definitely not the neutral, open and agnostic player that it once could claim to be".
The announcement comes just days after Research in Motion launched BBM Music, which allows users of BlackBerry handsets to stream tracks on their devices and also share the music with their friends.
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