Streaming music is proving to be one of the biggest developments in entertainment in a long time. With a host of companies already involved in the practice like Spotify and Pandora (News - Alert), and others stepping in, like Apple Music, it's a field that's likely to have plenty of competitors vying for the ears of listeners. Google (News - Alert), meanwhile, is throwing its hat in the ring with Google Play Music, which recently launched a free version in the United States.
Google Play Music has already been around quite some time, reports note, as a subscription service in which users pay to listen to unlimited quantities of musical tracks. The free version, meanwhile, will offer a set of curated playlists geared toward different times of day and different events going on at those times. Possible events covered include “cleaning the house,” “driving” or “entering beast mode.” It will be ad-supported, so while users get to listen to whatever Google Play Music is putting on at the time, it will also offer ads, so in some ways it will be like a standard radio station.
The service uses Songza infrastructure, reports note, which Google picked up just under a year ago, and is available currently on the Web. It will follow by the end of the week to Android (News - Alert) and iOS, and Google hopes that the free version will encourage paid users to step in and take advantage of the service to the fullest. Considering that Google already has around 815,000 subscribers shelling out the $10 a month to get in as of December alone, this would appear to be a big win.
That said, it may be a qualified win only. Apple Music is getting into the fray, and already scoring some points with artists for its plans to pay for use of music during a user's 90 day free trial. Spotify, meanwhile, recently announced plans to augment its offerings with video content, and also acquired $526 million in new investment. With reports from as far back as 2014 suggesting that revenue growth in the field would experience “hiccups” through 2019, that makes a particularly dangerous situation for newcomers into the field—at least, for those newcomers that aren't generating around $8 million in revenue a month on current activities and don't have the force of Google behind the operation.
That's a lot of competition, and a lot of different places for users to get roughly the same thing. After all, let's not forget that Google's own YouTube (News - Alert) represents an easy way to get just about any song around at no charge thanks to the incredible power of “derivative works”. But with Google offering up some curation and compilation for specific moods, it may have an edge over efforts like Spotify (News - Alert), and that could be all it needs to survive and even thrive in the end.