As of Wednesday, music fans now have another option for streaming music online. Howbeit a bit late to the party, Google has unveiled a streaming music service designed to compete with juggernauts Spotify and Pandora, which it is calling “Google Play Music All Access.” (Or more likely, “All Access” for short.)
With this new service, which Google’s Chris Yerga described at the official unveiling at Google’s I/O developer’s conference in San Francisco yesterday as “a uniquely Google approach to a Google music service,” the search engine giant hopes to separate itself from the pack with a more simplistic approach to music streaming, one that provides the playlist-based functionality of Pandora with an intelligent ability to suggest new music to listeners based on their own libraries, along with a simplified search function compared to other services.
Perhaps the most notable difference listeners will discover with the new All Access option is the fact that there really is no “free” version of the product. Since Google has rolled out All Access as an extension of Google Play, the “free” version is essentially what Google Play has been prior to now: access via web or Android, free locker storage of up to 20,000 songs you currently own, and the ability to purchase songs online. To stream from the larger library will cost $9.99 a month, but to encourage subscribers, Google is currently offering a 30-day free trial with a reduced monthly charge of $7.99 until June 30. The flip side of this: with no free version, there are also no ads.
There are any of a number of reasons why this new music streaming service could be a failure—at the very least, this feels like something quite anti-climactic. Perhaps it’s the long, forgettable name Google chose for the service, or the fact that there is not much (so far) that seems to differentiate it from other, better known streaming services. But don’t rule Google out just yet. This is a company with a history of coming in late and sweeping up the competition (does anyone search with Yahoo! anymore?), and its monumental successes have largely outshone its list of missteps. With iTunes getting ready to jump into the streaming music scene in the near future, the ante is going to be upped quite a bit. It will be interesting to see which streaming services come out on top of this one.