Google Music has always been a very nice music locker, but while European users were able to use its iTunes Match-like scan-and-match feature since last month, U.S.-based users only got access to this tool today. Until now, U.S. users had to upload all of their music to the service, which could obviously take a while. Starting today, Google can just scan your music collection and rebuilt it on Google Music without the need to transfer gigabytes of data.
Unlike Apple and Amazon, which charges about $25 per year for their respective services, Google offers this service for free. You can upload up to 20,000 songs and there are no limits to how much storage these songs take up. Google says it will stream your music back to you at up to 320 kbps. Unlike Apple’s service, though, Google will only let you re-download your music at a similar bitrate to your original.
It’s not clear why exactly Google is now able to offer this service in the U.S. (we’ve asked the company for clarification), but chances are it has now been able to work out a deal with all the major music labels in the U.S. to offer this service. Given that Google is offering this service for free, chances are that it is paying the labels directly and hopes to make up for the cost by getting more people to buy more songs from the Google Play store.