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Google Music launches, with the help of Busta Rhymes

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Busta Rhymes with Google mascot

Yes, that's a picture of Busta with a life-sized, artfully tagged Android mascot at the program's official launch. Stop asking so many questions!

Yesterday marked the launch of Google Music, its new cloud-based service meant to compete directly with iTunes, Amazon, and Facebook. "They've got to make their ecosystem appeal to consumers in a way that Amazon and Apple have," said one media analyst. "Personal cloud services are what's going to drive the next wave of consumer adoption. So Google has to be playing here. But because they're so late they have to be playing here in a unique way." 

Hmm, good point. So how, exactly, does Google plan to set its album-and-single-downloading-service apart from the others? By leaving Green Day and Led Zeppelin out of its offerings, but giving you plenty of free Dave Matthews Band and Coldplay, of course! Apparently, Google is as of yet unable to come to a licensing agreement with Warner Music Group, rendering a number of major artists' catalogues unavailable. They do have thirteen million songs available, though, and to celebrate the launch Google is offering free music from several bands, as well as a brand new single from unexpected celebrity spokesman Busta Rhymes — you can listen to "Why Stop Now" below.  

Also, Google Music will allow users to give their Google+ contacts one free listen of any track they've bought through the service, and unlike iTunes' similar Match program, the cloud service will be offered for free. "Other cloud music services think you have to pay to listen to music you already own," explained a Google executive. "We don't." 

Well, I'm all for getting things for free, but after Google+ and Google Buzz both turned out to be so "meh," I'm skeptical. Hopefully the Busta Rhymes stamp of approval really does still mean something these days.