The Associated Press reports that on November 1, Google signed a licensing agreement with European music publishers to add more than 5.5 million songs to Google Play's music library. The new content will span across 35 countries and include popular artists like Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
The arrangement was made with Armonia, the alliance of French, Italian and Spanish licensing groups. According to Catherine Kerr-Vignale of France' SACEM, this is the broadest licensing deal of its kind. Royalties that will be shelled out by Google to publishers and artists will be on the same level as those paid by rivals Amazon and Apple.
The new deal with Google also includes the British and American portfolio of Universal Music Publishing, and Sony's Latin works, she said.
Armonia is described (pdf) as "an initiative from SACEM, SGAE and SIAE to facilitate the pan-European licensing by offering a single point of entry for the use of repertoires that they represent, in line with the objectives of transparency and efficiency of the recent draft Directive of the European Commission."
"We’re thrilled to have reached an agreement with the Armonia societies. Licenses such as this are important in ensuring that artists and rights-holders are rewarded fairly for their creative endeavors, and digital service providers are able to bring innovative services to market," said Sami Valkonen, head of music licensing at Google.
The search engine giant's new deal means more users will have access to more content on an international scale rather than face a music library comprised mostly of North American artists. This move also puts the company more in line with competitors Apple and Amazon who already address an international market with a wide selection of artists.