Google just launched their music store in the US, and sent a message to Google Music beta users (excerpted below):

Dear Music Beta user,

We’re excited to announce that Music Beta by Google is officially graduating from beta today! Google Music will remain a free service, and you can continue to store up to 20,000 songs in your personal music library.

All of your purchases are automatically stored on Google Music for free (and don’t count toward your 20,000 song limit). You can even share a free full play of any purchase with your friends on Google+.

For Google Music users with Android phones and tablets running version 2.2+, you will automatically receive an updated version of Android Market with the music store over the next few days. You should also receive a system notification with the Music app update sometime today, but you can always download it immediately.

— The Google Music Team

The big news here is that Google’s digital music locker stays free for up to 20,000 songs.  Apple includes a locker for 25,000 songs with their iTunes Match service for $25 a year.  Amazon gives you 5 GB of storage free, and is now offering unlimited music storage with any Cloud Storage plan, starting at $20 per year for 20 GB.  None of the services count music purchased from their stores against your limits.

If you haven’t tried Google Music, you should.  They have lots of free music to check out, and you can easily upload your iTunes library and keep it in sync (for free!). Since all your music (well, 20,000 songs at least) is really in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about keeping things in sync. Or about music taking up space on your devices and computers.  Or about backups.  Yay Google!

The new store fills a big hole for Android users, and iOS users can purchase the gMusic for easy access to the Google locker on their iPhone, iPod, or iPad.  Overall, there’s a lot to like, especially for a product that just launched.

What’s to like:

  • It’s free!
  • Music downloads are 320 kbps (highest quality MP3 files)
  • Lots of free music to sample
  • Easy upload of iTunes library
  • Automatically syncs with iTunes
  • Available on all devices and computers, even your friend’s
  • Great for Android users

What’s not to like:

  • Catalog missing Warner Bros. and some independent labels
  • Needs good internet connection for smooth playback
  • Requires paid app for best operation on iOS devices
  • Available only in the United States

Google Music for Artists

Google also introduced Artist Pages (or Artist Hub, or Google Music for Artists — choose one.)  For a one-time $25 setup fee, independent artists get a page in the Android Market to tell their story and sell their music with the following features:

  • Set your own price, including limited-time specials and album-only purchases
  • Artist gets 70% paid monthly, Google keeps 30%
  • Unlimited track/album uploads
  • No annual fee
  • Sell on YouTube with a buy link in your music videos

Note: Links to iTunes and Amazon are affiliate links.