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Music What Canadian fans can expect from Google’s newly launched Play Music

The Google logo is pictured at a store in Hialeah, Fla.

Alan Diaz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Please allow Google Play Music to introduce itself.

At a Toronto press conference this morning, preceded by the blaring of the Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil, it was announced that Google's online music service would finally be available in Canada, beginning May 5, at noon.

Google Play was launched in the United States on Nov 16, 2011.

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Comprised of a variety of synchable functions (a personal "music locker" cloud storage capacity of 20,000 songs, a music store, personalized and interactive "radio stations" and a subscription-based streaming service), the Google Play package joins streaming services Rdio, Songza and Slacker in Canada, where copyright laws are more problematic than in the United States. There, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Radio, Google Play and the new Beats Music compete for ears.

"The licensing is not so straight forward in Canada," Zahavah Levine told The Globe and Mail, when asked about the holdup. "It's not just that it is complicated, it's that some of our features have never been licensed before for this territory."

The digital media veteran Levine is the director of global content partnerships for Google Play. The new features she mentioned involve a free music locker into which users can freely import up to 20,000 songs from their own collections. Another new function involves the limited sharing of tracks among Google Plus users.

The announcement comes on the eve of Canadian Music Week (May 6 to 10), a five-day event of concerts, showcases and conferences spread across Toronto's downtown venues.

Google Play's subscription service involves a monthly fee of $9.99, a toll which enables unlimited access to some 25-million songs, from all major labels and "thousands" of independent labels.

The service is usable through any Android or iOS device, or via the Web at play.google.com.

Asked about profitability projections, Levine declined to speculate. "I don't think we're going to talk about that. We're really focused on having a great experience for our users right now."

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