Later today, Google is expected to launch its long-awaited digital music service, pitting it head to head with Amazon, which launched its own cloud-based music service in March.
Music Beta will allow US-based music lovers to upload as mmany as 20,000 tunes to the cloud, free, and listen to them over an internet-connected device such as an Adroid phone, a PC or a tablet. The service will initially be invitation-only - attendees at the I/O conference are likely to get first dibs, perhaps followed by owners of the Xoom tablet.
It's not yet known whether or not Google has succeeded in signing licensing deals with the major record companies - something Amazon has failed to do. Reports say that Google's been in discussion with the music labels, but has found their terms too onerous; however deals could still be in the pipeline.
Billboard reports that Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group were the problem, demanding 'unreasonable and unsustainable' terms.
Such licensing agreements aren't strictly necessary, as the service covers music that's already been bought and paid for by the customer.
Going it alone does, though, mean that users won't be able to share their music with friends They'll also need to upload their collection to the cloud themselves, rather than being able to get instant access to a central music library.
Google's managed to get Music Beta out ahead of Apple, which is believed to be planning its own cloud-based music service - but which appears to be held up by the company's plans to secure licenses from the record companies. Spotify, too, is attempting to pin down licensing deals that would allow it to expand out of its European stronghold and into the US.