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Google Music goes live in the UK

Google has opened up its Google Music streaming service to UK users today. The cloud-based service allows each user to store up to 20,000 320kbps MP3 files for free, which can then be listened to on any PC or Android mobile device with an internet connection. You'll also be able to share tracks with friends to give them a listen before they buy.

Google's Music Manager desktop app scans the audio files on your PC and uploads them to your online music storage space. It'll also check your collection against music already stored by Google, so it won't waste time and bandwidth uploading music that it already has, but will instead provide you with a copy of its own.

As well as uploading your MP3s, music in other supported formats - AAC, FLAC and OGG - are automatically transcoded to MP3, while WMA files can be stored but only played using the Windows version of the Google Play Music Manager. You can also upload playlists from iTunes and Windows Media Player.

Google's Play store allows you to buy music, too, with tracks priced from 79p. Google will also recommend new music based on your existing collection.

Although users in the US have had the service since 2011, its UK release had been delayed by licensing negotiations with record labels and the Performing Right Society.

Given the vast number of people who already have Google accounts and the ubiquitous nature of its services, Google Play Music could put a serious dent in the profits of existing music retailers and streamers such as Amazon, Spotify and Apple.

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