After months of speculation that Apple would soon launch a Pandora-like streaming music service, it now appears that Google will beat Apple to the market by launching its own streaming service, although the Mountain View company’s effort will be more akin to on-demand Spotify than it will be to a radio-like Pandora.
Music industry sources speaking with The Verge this week indicated that Google would unveil the service at its I/O event today in San Francisco. The company reportedly has content deals in place with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group.
Google already has an existing music service which launched in 2011. The current service sells individual songs and albums as à la carte MP3 downloads, in the same fashion as Apple’s iTunes Music Store. The new service will offer customers streaming rights to a large catalogue of music, with limited download rights for offline play.
Unlike many of Google’s other services, however, the unnamed music streaming offering from the company won’t be free, according to The New York Times. While pricing details were not leaked to the newspaper, it points out that most similar services charge between $5 and $10 per month for on-demand streaming.
Also unclear thus far is YouTube’s roll in the service. Google acquired the popular video destination in 2006, and it currently serves content to more than 800 million unique visitors per month. Because music videos are among the most popular content on the service, The Wall Street Journal reports that YouTube has long attempted to negotiate audio-only streaming rights for its own paid service. It is not known how those separate negotiations play into Google’s broader efforts, or if the company will try to merge the new streaming service into the YouTube experience.
More information will hopefully be revealed when Google’s I/O 2013 kicks off at 9:00 a.m. PDT today.