Google has been slowly improving its music app since the move to Google Play earlier this year. Just last week, the search giant updated the app with gapless playback (for Jelly Bean) and other features that bring it up to par with other services like iTunes and Amazon MP3. All of that means nothing, however, without a large variety of content, and Google is getting just that in Europe today.
The AP, via Bloomberg Businessweek, is reporting that Google has just reached a licensing deal with European music publishers that will see 5.5 million songs, including Universal Music's US and British catalog, being added to Google Play Music. The agreement covers 35 countries, and is being called the broadest music licensing agreement in Europe. Other music services like iTunes have separate licensing agreements for each country that it operates in.
Google's deal may be more favorable as one agreement covers much of Europe, but the company isn't getting discounts. The AP reports that Catherine Kerr-Vignale of France' SACEM said that Google's royalty payments to publishers were in line with industry standards.
This deal further cements Google's place as a solid competitor in the consumer industry. iTunes and Amazon may be the leaders, but it would be unwise to count Google out just yet. An IDC report from earlier this month showed that 136 million Android smartphones shipped to consumers in the last quarter. Not all of them are going to use Google Play Music, but Android's proliferation throughout the world gives Google an increasingly larger platform that it can sell its services to.