Google has announced a free tier for its Google Play Music streaming service in the form of free, ad-supported radio.
The music streaming space got a lot more crowded with the launch of Apple Music, which also has a free tier that allows access to Apple Music radio stations and the much-hyped Beats 1 station. And with the launch of free, ad-supported streaming on Google Play Music, things just got even more competitive. Google is in fact capitalizing on its acquisition of music curation service Songza last year to allow users access to expertly curated playlists with names like “Poolside Chic” and “Songs to Raise Your Kids To”.
The difference between this and Spotify’s ad-supported free tier is that you have no control over the songs you play. You’re able to select playlists to suit your mood or the time of day, but it’s all out of your hands after that. In addition to sorting stations by genre, mood, decade or activity, Google also allows you to create a list of similar music by selecting your favorite artist, album or song.
Furthermore, free users will have the option to stream music at up to 320kbps if their data connection allows for it. Not too shabby at all!
Of course, Google is doing this in the hopes that you’ll be sufficiently enticed by its free service to sign up for its paid subscription, which will allow you to stream music ad-free, create offline playlists, and take your pick of its 30-million strong song library. While Google Play Music’s free offering doesn’t come with live radio stations like Apple Music, this move still aligns it more closely with the latter instead of Spotify, which has often come under fire from artists for its more comprehensive free streaming tier. It really is a fine balancing act between creating a free service that offers just enough to attract paid subscribers and managing royalty payments to artists.
Unfortunately, Google Play Music’s free tier won’t bring much joy to local customers as the paid version, Google Play Music All Access, has yet to arrive in Singapore or Malaysia. Google’s free service has already been launched on the web in the US, and will be rolling out to Android and iOS this week. Google is probably working on securing the rights to stream its free service in other countries, but there’s no word yet on when it might expand beyond the US (or to Singapore and Malaysia).