The online music market is crowded enough as it is and a bunch more services have launched recently. Very few are actually making money from it but there is definitely a lot of potential judging solely by the interest in the market. But, while there are plenty of startups trying to get their hands on a piece of the action, the larger web companies have mostly stayed out of this latest wave of music service. At least that was the case up till now as it looks like Google may be launching its dedicated music service possibly called Google Audio.
There are very few details at the moment, but TechCrunch cites multiple sources who claim that the service is very close to launch. The company has been securing rights with the major labels for the past weeks ahead of the launch. Other than this not much is known, not even if it's going to be a streaming or a download service though it will definitely be more than just an information-related service and it may be much more content-centric than most of Google's services.
The search giant has a music search service that allows users to download songs for free but it is exclusive to China. Launched last year, Google has secured licensing deals from several labels to provide the free, ad-supported service. This new one though will be unrelated to the China-specific one and may be very different from it. Google Audio will be available in the US for sure and possibly in other countries as well.
The company already has a dedicated music search engine integrated with the main search engine, which can be accessed by adding “music:” to the search query. There were some rumors regarding a Google Audio service a few years ago after a job posting referring to it; however, nothing has been heard since about the fate of that project. This new service may be the fruition of that or it may be completely unrelated. The market does seem a lot more welcoming for music services now, especially for streaming, than it was in 2009, with several companies having some success in the field and with the hyped free streaming service Spotify ready to launch in the US as well.