Google's iTunes competitor to be cloud-centric, allow streaming, full previews
It's no secret that Google has been planning an iTunes competitor -- and it's a foregone conclusion that if this is a Google service, it's going to feature serious cloud integration. According to Billboard.biz, however, Google's initial licensing proposal is now in the hands of the major labels, and a "digital locker" is definitely part of the plan.
Google wants to include an option that -- for US$25 per year -- would allow users to store their songs in the locker. Users would be able to access or stream their music anywhere, much like you can already do with Google Docs. Docs, of course, only allows you to play one track at a time, but it's not really intended to be a music service.
The proposal also states that Google's app would scan your drive for music (as any good library/sync/player application does), and any tracks recognized as being licensed would be made available via your digital locker. Billboard notes that Google talks about including files acquired via P2P networks, and that could cause some blowback, though I'm not sure why.
iTunes is pretty much the undisputed king of desktop music apps (like it or not), and it doesn't seem to have a problem importing discographies downloaded from torrent sites or one-hit-wonders acquired from Limewire. Heck, it'll even sync them onto iPods and iPhones -- so I certainly hope that the labels don't make with the dickery and give Google a hard time about this choice.
One other cool detail that's being talked about is that Google Music might include full previews. That's huge, especially if you're like me and enjoy songs that "evolve" from beginning to end. It's hard to know if you're going to like tracks from certain bands if all you can hear is 30 or 60 seconds... "Schism" by Tool is seven and a half minutes long -- 60 seconds is barely a taste.