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Tricky times for Google Music talks

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Whenever you have talks or discussions intended to expand on news ideas or resolve issues, it’s generally accepted that there’s only one direction that you want those talks to take. That’s right – forward. You don’t want talks to go sideways. Or diagonally. Or even slightly forward then off to the left. But most of all, you don’t want to go backwards.

According to a report from All Things Digital, it sounds like Google’s efforts to come up with a viable iTunes competitor are heading in the wrong direction. The report quotes an unnamed source apparently in the know as saying negotiations between the computer giant and the records labels are “broken”, while another industry source is quoted as saying that talks “have gone backwards.”

It sounds like the Google service is actually ready to go live – if it weren’t for the small matter of music rights and the like. Cnet reported as recently as last month that Google Music was soon to make its debut, but it seems that somewhere along the line a rather large spanner has been thrown into the works. Cnet’s report stated that Google had started in-house testing of their new music service – usually a sure sign that a release is imminent. The end of the report, however, hints at difficulties that may explain the “going backwards” comment: “Negotiations with at least some of the top publishers and with the four largest record labels are ongoing.”

Further evidence that Google is having a spot of bother with the record labels came in the form of a blog post by Wayne Rosso, formerly of file-sharing service Grokster. On April 11 he wrote that Google appeared to be “just about at the end of their rope with the major label licensing process.” That sounds pretty serious.

It’s impossible to know for sure what is causing the talks to apparently stall, though it has been suggested that Google may have made too many changes to its negotiating position in recent weeks, while there is also some anxiety among record labels regarding Amazon’s recently launched cloud-based music service (a service which currently doesn’t have streaming licenses), which Google’s rumored music offering could imitate.

So for those of you who are eagerly anticipating the arrival of a weighty competitor to iTunes and Amazon’s Cloud Player, sadly it looks like you’re going to have to wait a while longer.

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Trevor Mogg
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