How do you bury the competition? By taking one of their strongest services and improving on it. For the past year or so Google has been seeking its answer to the iTunes Store. We’ve heard various rumors, but we’ve also heard that Google has faced significant obstacles from the record companies. Frustrated that the record companies didn’t see things their way, Google went ahead and launched a comprehensive music locker service, Google Music. But now they’re back at the table with record companies, and it appears that they’re on the brink of something even bigger. The rumors have started to resurface, and now we’re starting to see evidence of their reality. Phandroid links information that contains a screenshot of the Google Music landing page. Option No. 1 comes as no surprise, since it’s the service we’ve all grown to know and love. Option No. 2 confirms at least part of the rumored addition to Google Music: a music store. We don’t yet know which labels Google has on board, so we don’t know the depth of the catalog. But chances are they wouldn’t launch one without the majors on board. And so they’ll have a music selection comparable to the iTunes Store. Only, the rumors don’t stop there. In addition to buying tracks from Google Music, rumor has it you’ll be able to share those tracks, likely through Google+. There will be an expiration date on them, so it’s not as though you can give your friends free copies of what you’ve purchased. But this still brings back a social element of music that gets lost in the restrictive digital world. Think about how you enjoyed music in the LP, cassette, and CD eras. You’d buy an album at the store, and after you listened to it a bunch you’d lend it to friends. They’d listen to it, and then maybe they’d buy their own copies. That is, the social element was good for the music industry, because it led to greater discovery. Yet with the digital age record companies have forsaken the social element due to their fear of piracy. Google Music might start bringing it back. It will be an interesting test case. Record labels love to say that sales have declined because of piracy, but there has always been a counterpoint that they have declined because of restrictiveness. Google Music proposes to take away this level of restrictiveness and restore a time-honored part of the music experience. It might sound scary for record labels now, but in the end it could benefit all parties greatly.