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Google’s new online music store to offer Universal Music songs

November 16, 2011 |  8:13 am

Maroon 5 Offical photo

Google Inc. has inked a deal with Universal Music Group to be able to sell downloads from the world's largest record company's song catalog, said executives familiar with the agreement.

Universal also granted Google a license to include its music in the technology company's cloud locker service, which lets users play their personal music collection from any Web browser. The two companies had been widely expected to reach a deal, but did not sign a contract until Wednesday morning, just hours before Google's press event to debut its music store.

The agreement is a coup for the Silicon Valley search giant, which has labored for more than a year to persuade major music labels to get on board with its ambitious plan to offer a full digital music service for mobile devices that use Google's Android operating system.

Google is set to announce a key component of that service on Wednesday — a download store akin to Apple Inc.'s iTunes or Amazon.com's MP3 store.

With Universal in the bag, Google's store would launch with roughly 80% of the music that's available for sale today. It earlier reached licensing deals with EMI, Sony and Merlin Network, a global consortium of more than 18,000 independent record labels and artists. 

Missing from the pack, however, is Warner Music Group, whose catalog represents about 20% of the market. An agreement with Warner is not expected to be reached in time for Google's unveiling of its music store, which is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles amid an eclectic guest list of street artists and musicians.

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— Alex Pham

Photo: Maroon 5, a Los Angeles-based band under contract with Universal Music, is among the artists scheduled to perform when Google unveils its music store. Credit: David Factor.

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