Just when it seemed that Google couldn’t possibly have another trick up its sleeve, it launches Google Magnifier. What is Google Magnifier? Well, in one sense, it’s a blog, developed by Tim Quirk, best known for his role with Rhapsody. Music blogs aren’t a new concept, but Google Magnifier isn’t like any other music blog.
Instead, it’s a music discovery website powered by a team of industry experts. In other words, Google Magnifier provides insight into the music industry that you won’t find elsewhere. It also delivers music and a host of superb features, including Artist of the Week and Song of the Day.
Google Magnifier: More than a Blog, a Network
Of course, if there is one thing the Internet is not short of, it’s hip music communities. Fortunately, Google isn’t satisfied with simply distinguishing itself on brand recognition alone. Instead, they rise above standard culture geek fare with innovation and the true potential for interactivity. Whether the community realizes that potential remains to be seen but so far so good. The listeners are active, the bands are finding ways to reach the masses and freelancers are finding creative ways to reach potential clients.
How it Stacks Up to Pandora and Spotify
The other way that Google Magnifier is more than just a blog is that it provides music to its audience. Through integration with Google+ and Music Beta, Google Magnifier offers a service that is a legitimate alternative to other free services like Spotify and Pandora. Google Magnifier provides some of Pandora and Spotify’s best features while putting greater focus on the individual’s collection. Via “add free music” buttons, which are all over the site, there is an iTunes element here except that every bit of music you access is completely free.
Music Beta, which launched early in 2011, got off to slow start. Functionality was limited, and industry critics forecasted a quick demise. But we see now that perhaps they rushed to judgment. Music Beta was just a step in what is Google’s greater cloud-based strategy. And so far, it looks as if Google’s cloud-based music service will work quite well on a greater scale. Google Magnifier isn’t perfect yet, not even close, but in many ways, it’s the most convenient and powerful free music service available, and that is a big “selling” point.
Surprisingly, there is still only very light integration between Google+ and Google Magnifier. That will surely change, as Google+ is no doubt a major component of Google’s cloud-based strategy going forward. Right now, Google+ users have access to just the“+1” feature, although it’s a cool feature. By clicking the “+1,” a user is able to turn anyone (or everyone) in his or her circle of friends onto that song. In the future, Google Magnifier users will be able to expose their entire library in this way, and circles of friends can have massive interconnected music libraries.
Mobile and TV Integration
Google already makes the service available through an Android app, and the website is accessible via Internet-enabled television as well. As the service continues to expand, it will likely replace YouTube when it comes to music. A great deal of YouTube traffic is music videos, but how many are actually watching? And as Magnifier becomes the dominant service for music, the industry will better embrace it, as they did YouTube, and more mainstream music will become available free. In addition, Magnifier also shows music videos, like YouTube, and interviews, a la Winamp, so they will also cater to the audience that comes for those services.
What It All Means for Freelancers
Although right now there are only limited opportunities for freelancers, there is still more to this service for them than just listening to music. Freelancers can use Google Magnifier by way of Google+ to expand and engage their network, which is particularly powerful if they sell a music-related product or service. In addition, freelancers and other business entities can sponsor bands, from individual songs to whole albums and entire discographies. This can be an expensive proposition in some cases, but for a talented up-and-coming local band, it can be a quite cost-efficient means of marketing.
The cynic’s take is this: Google Magnifier is still a blog, Music Beta is still a link locker and Google+ is still operating in the shadow of Facebook. It’s all true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s a great deal of potential here, and Google has a track record of converting on potential in a big way. If nothing else, it demonstrates that Google is serious about making Google Music fit for mass consumption.
With a few adjustments and some extra features, Google Music could conceivably become a cloud-based “free” store. If that happens, Pandora, Spotify and many other services likely don’t stand a chance. Google has already provided us will fully indexed access to Web. What’s to stop them for doing the same with music? We surely wouldn’t bet against them and neither should you. In the meantime, Google Magnifier is a great place for audiophiles to get their daily music fix.