Google to launch MP3 store in coming weeks?

Details are still scarce here, but the New York Times is reporting that Google is about to launch a new MP3 store, as part of its ongoing foray into the music business. According to sources within the industry, the platform, not surprisingly, would be directly linked to Google Music Beta and may launch within the next few weeks -- perhaps even before Apple unveils iTunes Match, at the end of this month. It remains to be seen, however, whether Big G will be able to finalize negotiations with record labels and publishers before launching the initiative in earnest -- a potentially major hurdle, considering Google's recent track record. As you may recall, previous negotiations over a proposed locker-type storage service ultimately broke down earlier this year, amid concerns over licensing and illegal file-sharing. As one label executive told the Times, the recording industry desperately wants to "make sure the locker doesn't become a bastion of piracy." An MP3 store, of course, isn't exactly a radical proposal, but its future will likely hinge upon Google's ability to mend relations with a sector it recently characterized as "unreasonable and unsustainable."