On the heels of Apple Music’s $9.99 streaming service getting the bodyslam from a 99-pounder named Taylor Swift, Google has just rolled out “Play Music,” which will offer a free, ad-supported streaming music service. Combined with their “All Access” subscription product released in May, Google appears positioned to crush both Spotify and Apple Music.
Play Music is going up against Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, and a dozen others. But unlike paid versions, the free version launched this week will not let users choose their own songs to play on demand. Instead, users will have the option to choose from pre-curated playlists, similar to Pandora or iTunes Radio.
Google unveiled Google Play Music All Access on May 15 for the U.S., as a $10 a month subscription music and Internet radio service that gave access to 30 million tracks that could be intermingled with the music users already owned. What made ‘All Access’ special was that users can peek at the personalized songs coming up in the suggested playlist, and swipe away any that they already know they would rather not hear. Users could also drag and drop songs within the playlist to reorder them.
There is no limit in “All Access” to the number of songs that can be skipped per day, which is unusual for a streaming radio app. All Access also came with cloud storage space for 50,000 user songs, which users can still upload, manage, download, and add to playlists along with anything the user wants to purchase from “Google Play” store.
The free “Play Music” service provides themed stations like “Driving” or “Working Out,” and the ability to search by genre, artist, or song to create a station of similar music. The playlists are being curated by Songza, which Google acquired last year. But perhaps the most compelling feature of the Google Play Music free service is that users will immediately receive cloud storage space for up to 50,000 songs in their own collection.
Any user of the Google Play Music that choses to upgrade to that All Access will not only have unlimited access to the 30 million track music library for off-line listening, but will also receive ad-free access to background features for music videos on YouTube.
Adding the new free, ad-supported service appears to make Google Play Music hyper-competitive compared to the new Spotify upgraded service and the Apple Music service that is scheduled to launch on June 30.
Spotify’s recent upgraded service operates similarly to an old version of Songza, where users are prompted to listen to certain playlists based on what Spotify believes they are doing at the time, such as studying or commuting to work in the morning. Apple enlisted Drake to help launch Apple Music, but they should have cut a deal with Taylor Swift.
That said, our appetite for streaming music is only growing, and with multiple players throwing their hat in the ring, the real winner will be the consumer.
The free version of Google Play Music rolled out on the web Tuesday, with launches for iOS and Android coming next week.