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Farewell to free Google music
By Brian Offenther

WHY did it happen now? In the middle of a holiday week, there are vast swaths of time for listening to music, like a giant table of food ready to be plucked from the buffet of time. With no warning, a whole bunch of plates were thrown on the ground.

What am I talking about? This message that appeared on the Google Music China website: "谷歌音乐搜索服务已经关闭,请您在10月19日之前登陆并下载保存播放列表" According to www.translate.google.com, that means: "Google music search service has been turned off, please log in and download saved playlists before October 19."

Not even a "RIP" or tombstone emblem. Perhaps a broken half-note shattered on the ground would be appropriate. No, instead the same beige, yellow and bright blue colors with black text that have colored the life of the site through its existence.

According to a September 21 article by Michael Kan in technology website PC World, Google Music launched in 2009, becoming the first licensed distributor of online music on the Chinese mainland.

The site allowed for digital downloads of MP3s from major labels for free. Revenue was generated from ad sales on the site. Artists like Led Zeppelin, Ke$ha, and Miles Davis were all available. Surfers of the site could preview songs to listen to, or download tracks individually.

Other than an annoying and time-wasting captcha code required to be filled out after more than a few dozen downloads in a single day, there were no other restrictions.

For music fans who respect copyright, especially those from the West used to pay-per-download or subscription services for music, this of course was a boon.

It felt akin to stealing, but it was all approved by the big bosses, with money going to the artists with as much regularity as you'd expect any similar transaction (very little, but that's another issue).

Of course, this leads to certain holes. For one, most music listeners don't respect copyright. Since that's the case, it still is somewhat easier to go to a torrent site to steal music than through the Google site. Alternatively, similar sites like Baidu were and are available.

At the very least, likely due to the influence of Google Music, Baidu now has cut some deals with the record labels for using their music, a situation that likely wouldn't exist if Google Music didn't tip the board in that direction.

So with Google Music now gone, we can at least appreciate some of its last effects. This includes hoping you were like me and downloaded a whole bunch of the great music provided by the site before it went away.


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