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What to Expect from Google's Music Store Launch Wednesday

On Wednesday afternoon Google will finally launch its long-awaitedmusic store at an event in Los Angeles.

The company's kept the event under wraps, but dropped some pretty heavy-handed hints.

The invite is titled "These Go to Eleven" and was e-mailed by Spinal Tap character 'Nigel Tufnel.'

Google may not be talking, but my sources are.

They tell me that Google will launch with two of the four major music labels on board -- Universal Music and EMI.

But Google still hasn't landed deals with the other two -- Warner Music and Sony Music -- and is now rushing to wrap up negotiations in the next 48 hours.

The music store will be an MP3 store like Apple's or Amazon's -- and will work with Google's Music Beta service, which connects your library to the cloud, so if you buy a song from Google, you'll be able to access it anywhere.

Google's store has a unique twist: customers will be able to share songs they've purchased with friends, using Google +.

Those friends can listen to a song a few times before they must buy it themselves. If this works, same instinct to share music which grew piracy, will now drive sales of tracks and push the adoption of Google +.

One music industry source tells me Google's new store will be the first to give Apple "a real run for its money." Google has two major advantages: its dominance in search and the scale of the Android mobile platform. I hear that right off the bat Google will integrate the music store into search results. So anyone who's looking for a photo of Justin Bieber or trying to remember a lyric to a Florence and the machine song will be directed to buy songs from Google. It'll take a bit longer, but eventually Google will integrate its music store into the Android platform -- the biggest mobile platform worldwide.

But Google can't pose a real threat to Apple or Amazon unless it secures licensing agreements with Warner Music and Sony Music -- and fast.

Google's library must be all-inclusive t compete. We shouldn't expect any eleventh hour deals-- one source tells me Warner Music and Google are "far apart" on a number of issues. It isn't just a question of how *much* Google will pay; the 'social sharing' aspect complicates licensing agreements. Plus, Sony reportedly has been using these negotiations to push Google to block access to music piracy sites the same way it blocks access to pornography sites.

I'll be reporting on the Wednesday event, which will also be streamed live online at YouTube.com/Android.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.