By Darrell Etherington
Google has reached a new arrangement with European music publishing entities which will give it access to 5.5 million tracks spanning 35 countries, including artists like Lady Gaga and Rihanna. The arrangement was made with Armonia, one of the largest alliances of music publishers in the world, which includes French, Italian and Spanish licensing groups. This should help Google expand the availability of its music content offerings in Europe as it looks to compete with the media marketplaces of Apple and Amazon.
The Associated Press reports that the terms of the deal are “in line with industry standards involving Google rivals like Amazon and Apple’s iTunes,” according to SACEM representative Catherine Kerr-Vignale. Kerr-Vignale also noted that where Amazon and Apple have country-by-country licensing agreements in place for European distribution, Google’s deal is more broad, its reach applying to 35 countries. The deal also includes UK and American sections of Universal Music Publishing library and Sony’s Latin catalog.
Google’s deal means that more of its users in more places will be able to access a greater range of content, a key ingredient for Google if it wants to continue to build traction in markets where its media ecosystem lags behind those of its competitor, and Apple in particular. Google Play still has a fair amount of U.S.-only content, necessitating workarounds like the one described in this recent article. But Google has been vocal about trying to add more content for international Google Play customers, and licensing deals like this one are the way to make it happen.
This deal and ones like it are potentially the most important piece for Google going forward, in terms of competing with Apple abroad and making sure that upstarts like Amazon don’t end up using Android as essentially a content delivery system for their own competitive marketplace. It should help to address the spate of complaints that surfaced from international reviewers around the time of the Nexus 7′s release, so long as Google can continue to pull in agreements like this one across the various Google Play media sections.