Like most marketing buzzwords, I really dislike the term “game-changer.” It’s way too overused by bloggers and PR people regarding products that usually are the complete opposite in that they’re more of the same crap that already exists. On the rare occasion that there is something revolutionary that comes along though, it’s really exciting, but it hasn’t happened recently. For the first time though, I’m excited about a potential opportunity. I genuinely believe Google could have something that would be a legitimate game-changer for the music industry — if they do it right.
Just today it was revealed that Google’s Music Store will allow you to share songs with friends, either for a limited amount of time or limited number of plays. That’s a very good start in terms of “game-changing” if you ask me. What else? Let’s look at some other things that could make Google a music industry giant:
Buy From Anywhere
First and foremost, a Google Music Store that’s browser/widget-based can be anywhere on any Google property. If you search for a song, the results page can let you listen to it and buy it. If you’re watching the video for it on YouTube or even watching a video that has the song in it, you’d be able to buy it right then and there. Just this past weekend, Google announced that YouTube will now implement a merch store that’s a part of the video’s page, and I’m sure the addition of a direct music purchase will be implemented.
In addition to being all over Google properties, a sales widget could be embedded on nearly any webpage or other social networks, something Amazon and iTunes simply don’t or can’t do (not directly, anyway). As long as you’re signed into Google on your browser, the APIs allow a one-click purchase using Google Checkout. You should be able to embed your streaming/store widgets just about anywhere.
A Seamless Purchase in the Cloud
Obviously, a Google Music Store would work seamlessly on the 190 million Android devices running today. Anybody who has already purchased an app is already setup for one-click purchasing that can be instantly added to their Google Music account, accessible from their phones or any browser, and optionally downloaded to those devices. Easy, right? With the API, any purchases on any website are also instantly added to Google Music.
Bands Managing Their Own Sales
One of the best things I can see coming out of this is that bands could easily be in charge of selling their own music, without gatekeepers like TuneCore, DittoMusic, CDBaby, etc. What makes this even more likely is that the infrastructure already exists for it! Their existing marketplace essentially is a model for it, because I can pay $25 and upload as many apps as I want, have them be for sale in the marketplace anywhere from free to hundreds of dollars, and get paid by Google through Checkout. All they have to do is duplicate the system and replace ‘app’ with ‘track’ or ‘album’ in the language.
The Google+ Tie-In
When Google+ starts allowing band pages, I see this being the gateway for those bands (and even record labels) to sell music directly through their profile. The music player they would have built-in would also seamlessly integrate with Google Music and the Music Store. You’d have easy checkboxes and controls so that you could tell it to sell the song and for how much, or to have it only available to stream. You’d also be able to control how it could be shared, for example only on Google+, all websites, or even individual songs or force the player to show all songs. Naturally you’d be able to add it as a tab on Facebook too. Think about it… it would be for songs what YouTube is for video. If I were Soundcloud, I’d be watching very closely.
Band pages on Facebook make it really easy to share your music… on Facebook. My biggest problem with Facebook is that there’s no real way to embed the music player on any other site, other than to try and find the source files on Soundcloud or Reverbnation and embed from there if I can. If the band pages on Google+ allow embedding anywhere they’re already better than Facebook’s options. And not only could websites, blogs, and other sites present your music directly to their audience (instead of making them click to Facebook, then click the music tab, then click play), that player is also a store where they can purchase it as easily as play it.
So What Else?
These are all just ideas, but I feel all of them would be very easy for Google to actually do, very soon, and without too much further work. What do you think? Can you build off of any of these ideas or offer some of your own? Leave a comment, and if you think someone else might enjoy the article please share it via email or using the buttons to the left.