Licensing is a complicated process, especially when you consider accessing content from across borders. For instance, a certain song may be available in the U.S., but not in Spain, or vice versa. As such, media companies are usually keen on getting into licensing deals with copyright holders. Google, for one, has successfully entered into an agreement with IP holders in Europe, and an additional 5.5 million songs have been added to Google Music.
The broad licensing deal covers IP rights from Armonia, a European alliance involving French, German and Spanish licensing groups, and will enable Google to distribute an additional 5.5 million songs in 35 countries in Europe. These include works from artists like Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
While it may not be as obvious — or even relevant — to most readers, industry representatives say this may set a precedent for other deals and companies. Google's deal is considered as the broadest of its kind. In contrast, other companies, like Apple and Amazon, pursue country-specific licensing deals, which means they license content on a per-country basis. Google's European deal essentially puts several countries under an umbrella license, giving access to a broader audience.
Google Music launched in 2011 with 8 million tracks from major labels. But while EMI and Sony Music Entertaiment joined in early, Google launched without Warner Music Group as a content partner. That changed in late October, when Warner finally entered into a deal with Google to distribute their catalog.
This European deal includes licenses for British and American music from Sony's Latin works and Universal Music Publishing.
With this deal, is Google going to pose a bigger challenge for iTunes in terms of marketing muscle and actual content delivery?