For months we've been hearing rumors about Google Music, the company's on-demand or subscription or cloud-based music service. One industry insider recently called it the "worst kept secret" in the business--yet very few details have leaked about the service.
Today, however, Google quietly launched a new Google Labs feature in India called Indic Music, a search-and-play service that might gives us some clues into how Google Music could look.
Indic Music enables users to search through an expansive library of Hindi artists on Google, view entire albums, and play songs for free in ad-supported pop-up music player. It doesn't have auto-play like Pandora or Rhapsody--music can only be played on a per-track basis.
The project is part of a partnership between Google and Indian music sites Saavn and In.com, as well as India's largest record label, Saregama. The three companies provide the service with hundreds of thousands of tracks. Google acts as a centralized database for the music.
Indic Music is a far cry from the promising rumors of Google's "locker," a cloud-based service that would give subscribers access to unlimited streaming tracks for a monthly fee. Instead, the Labs project is more akin to YouTube: Users can find and listen to pretty much any song online, but it's more a one-off service than a replacement to, say, iTunes.
But there is good news here: Google has finally found some success working with third-party streaming sites and record labels--albeit in India. A similar marriage has failed to develop in the U.S. Last fall, Google attempted to build a similar service on top of MySpace and LaLa that did not pan out--but let's hope this new feature serves as some indication that such a wedding is possible.