Google Music: Store Open, Integrated with Google + For Sharing and Recommending Music

LOS ANGELES — Google today said its Google Music store is — as of today — open for business.

Execs unveiled Google Music, a digital music store ala Apple iTunes. But an exec on stage made a dig at Apple, saying: “But we won’t charge you to upload music you already own.”

Execs emphasized what they said has never before been done before Google Music: The service allows point of sale social sharing of music. Sharing, purchasing and recommending are tightly integrated in this service, they said, and of course it all revolves around Google +

There was a lot of sparkle to the event. Rap artist Bustah Rhymes was at the event, announcing he would release his new single for free on Google Music today. And for the rest of the year, Google said The Rolling Stones will exclusively stream free live concerts to Google Music users.

Execs leaned heavily on the idea that music buyers will love to buy music and albums recommended to them by friends and contacts over Google +. That would amount to a pretty big shift in buying behavior, Google execs admitted, but they say music plus social at point of sale and beyond is the ticket. Most people learn of new music through friends anyway, they said.

Google Music is free up to 20,000 songs — those are shareable songs — but you can share a specific track or album with a specific Google+ contact only once.

For aspiring artists, Amazon showed the Artist Hub, which allows musicians to upload, market, price and sell their songs and albums via the Google Music store. That part of it is very much a YouTube type model. Seventy percent of the revenues made go to the artist, under this deal. But uploading songs or albums and selling them in Google Music is free and even encouraged.

Google Music is free and immediately available to all Android mobile users — execs said its catalog is starting small and steadily growing. Google had reps from EMI, Sony and other labels at the event — Warner was notably missing. I’ll take a deeper look at all the details of this major Google unveiling as the evening wears on. I live-blogged the event. STORY UPDATED 5 PM PACIFIC Nov. 16. 2011