Google announced today its own online music service, according to The Wall Street Journal. The service, called Music Beta, allows users to upload music, which can then be played wherever an Internet connection exists or on Android smart phones.  Google made the announcement at its I/O conference.

Unlike Amazon.com’s recently launched Cloud service, Google’s plan does not include an option to purchase new music. Rather, Google will provide a location for users to store already purchased music, which may then be played online.

Known within technology and music industries as a “passive” locker system, Google’s service does not require licensing agreements with record companies.

However, such a system lacks key features that other companies are, or plan to offer, in the future.

According to the Journal:

Although Google’s movie initiative is similar to its competitors, the Internet giant’s efforts with music are a bit more ambitious. Google said some customers will be invited to test its “Music Beta” service, which works with music collections stored on laptops and desktops running both Microsoft Windows and Apple’s OS X.

From day one, Amazon’s Cloud system allows users to purchase and/or store music onto Amazon servers. However, that service “hasn’t significantly upgraded its service since it launched.” This is mainly due to Amazon’s decision to not seek out record companies for their approval. Still, even with its limitations, Amazon provides a much more robust system than what Google is expected to unveil.

Meanwhile, Apple is largely expected to announce its own “in the cloud” music storage service soon. Plus, unlike Amazon, Apple is expected to secure licenses from the major record labels before doing so.

Google’s cloud music service comes the same week the Search giant announced plans to bring 3,000 more titles to its YouTube online movie rental music. With both projects, Google is entering growing markets, but doing so on a very small scale.

According to Ars Technica:

Music Beta, which is currently available by invitation only for Android devices with at least version 2.2, allows users to upload up to 20,000 songs to music.google.com. Customers can then stream the music to any Android device, or “pin” it to the device for local storage. Devices will also be able to automatically cache recently played audio content for offline use. The music service will be free “at least while it’s in beta,” so here’s hoping for a Gmail-style development trajectory.

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