Google Music To Help Independent Musicians. But, What’s In It For Google?

image from www.google.comThis post is by David Harrell who blogs from the perspective of a musican who self-releases music with his band The Layaways at DigitalAudioInsider.

As a self-released musician, I was happy to see that Google Music includes the option for musicians to add their material to its music store, without having to go through a distributor. I wish the same option were available for Apple's iTunes. But what's the real upside for Google?

Most self-released artists don't sell a lot of music (though some do, see the update below) and most music fans coming to the Google Music store for the first time won't be looking for such material. Also, even if this music were considered a necessity for the Google Music catalog, Google already has relationships in place with TuneCore and CD Baby, so there's little barrier to entry and much, if not most, of that self-released material will eventually end up in Google's catalog.

There is, of course, the $25 setup fee. If a large percentage of the combined client base of TuneCore and CD Baby (more than 860,000 artist/client accounts, based on figures released by the two firms), sign up for Google's Artist Hub service, it could mean millions in setup fees. Yet that doesn't seem like much money when you consider that Google's revenue for the trailing 12 months is more than $35 billion.

For Google, the biggest advantage in courting self-released musicians might be the greater enthusiasm, and in-bound links, that result from giving such artists control over their catalogs. As with Facebook and Google+, Google has entered another market where it must battle a dominant service, Apple's iTunes Music Store, in addition to well-established alternatives like Amazon MP3 and eMusic. Perhaps the musicians who use the Artist Hub service will be more likely to push their fans to the Google Music store via their websites and social media posts. And even if relatively little of this self-released music is ever purchased, anything that directs music fans to Google Music can't be a bad thing for Google.

UPDATE: While most self-released musicians aren't selling a lot of music, a small subset of them are quite successful, as revealed by the numbers in this post on TuneCore's blog. Sixty TuneCore-distributed artists received more than $10,000 for digital music sales for the month of July 2011, with three artists receiving more than $100,000 for digital music sales for the month. Still, Google Music doesn't need a direct relationship with these artists to have their material in its catalog, as TuneCore artists can opt to have TuneCore deliver their albums to Google.

MORE: Compare Google Music, iTunes & Amazon [CHART]

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  1. This is what it says:
    As their Artist Page explains, there is a one-time $25 fee for each artist, and then you can upload as many albums as you’d like. However, if the artist already exists in their database, the initial $25 fee is waived. Google will take 30% of each sale, just like iTunes and Amazon.

  2. Oh and Another thing. I’ve heard thru the grapevine they are going to merge Google music directly with youtube. I don’t know if you noticed new changes to youtube as a platform. But its comming. If they do it correctly. This would be huge. Since most people searching for music already go to youtube.

  3. Chris is right — I just created an account for my band “The Layaways.” If you’re already in Google’s database, it waves the $25 fee.

  4. So your going to put your music on some site and that site is going to change your world without a distributor. Got it. BTW in the other world music sales to stores are positive and that is in whole numbers infact billions to the promised nano cents the online services offer. One indie band with a decent distributor can sell at least 1000 units of a release during a 6 month tour/socialmedia campaign. Those that sell thousands of records, cds and what ever else your fans want tour, do radio and understand that no website will replace the multi-cogs that it takes to get your music to the masses.
    For once could one of these “online music” sites do the artists bands labels and fans a solid and connect the clicks to bricks for the whole sale not just a 3 billion slice of a 27 billion dollar industry. What a concept Clicks to Bricks and sell to everyone everywhere and if your with a social conscience distributor they’ll help you, your community or nonprofit group with the profits from the sales of your music .
    IMHO Compensate the creators has to be the core of what is being offered because without it your selling wigits and some of us know that Music is Magic.

  5. Now, the question is…how do they already have your information? I’m among the lucky who didn’t have to pay but at the same time, there’s another “Dave Owens” who’s popped up recently and all of his albums pull up along with mine. How can I separate that? It’s nothing against his music, but he’s an older gentleman who does country music…quite different than mine. I’ve already had a few people tell me they’ve downloaded my “country” album and then realized it wasn’t me at all. That can be quite frustrating…

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