Google Inc. has landed licensing deals with Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group to introduce an on-demand music streaming service that would compete with Spotify, Rhapsody and others, according to executives knowledgeable with the contracts.
Warner Music Group was the first major record company to sign on to Google's proposed music service in March. Now, with all three major labels agreeing to license their catalogs to Google, the Mountain View, Calif., technology giant is set to launch its service as soon as this week, sources said. The addition of Sony and Universal was first reported by The Verge.
The new service will be offered by Google Play, the online marketplace that also sells Android apps, games and other digital media, including books, movies, music and magazine subscriptions.
For companies building media platforms such as Google, having a music service is important to offering a one-stop destination for entertainment and information. And with the emphasis on capturing advertising on mobile devices, music services are even more critical because more and more music is being consumed on smartphones and, to a lesser extent, tablets.
Google is racing against Apple Inc., which is buttoning up its own deals with major record companies to introduce an Internet radio streaming service that would rival Pandora. The two offerings are distinctly different, however. Google's music service would let listeners pick and choose exactly what they want to hear, similar to Spotify. Apple's service would function more like radio, serving up a random selection of music similar to what users want to hear.
Google did not respond to requests for comment. Universal and Sony declined comment.