Google close to deal with Universal Music

According to Bloomberg, citing sources "with knowledge about the situation", Google is close to sealing a deal with Universal Music Group. This deal would allow Google to store downloaded copies of purchased content on their servers, accessible by multiple devices.

Google has already signed a similar deal with EMI, and grabbing Universal leaves only Sony and Warner Music to round out the big four. Starting with a strong but arguably early push into the cloud music space with Google Music, the company has struggled with the simple reality that labels would rather deal with established digital music providers like Apple and Amazon rather than expose themselves to Google's more open platform.

As Apple releases their iTunes Match service, which will stream copies of your music without having to upload anything, Google needs to seriously improve their service if they want to compete. For now, Google Music is free. The company has promised that the service would remain free while in Beta, and has not commented on pricing plans for the official release. The free and open nature of Google Music would be an interesting contrast to the closed and non-free Apple solution, which is more established, wide-ranging and many times, more user-friendly.

We'd like to see Google pushing mobility on both its Music and Movies platforms. With Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) on the horizon, there's a great opportunity to make another big push against Apple, the dominant force on the digital music industry. ShoTTa35 in the forums has posted some leaked screenshots of the new Google Music. Head over there and take a look.

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