For a couple of years or more, there has been constant speculation about when we would see an ‘iRadio’ service from Apple, with some more reasonable speculation that by capitulating to streaming price demands they might have something by this June. Google has also been rumored to be working on a similar service, though more of an ‘on demand’ service like Rdio or Spotify than the Pandora-alike service Apple is reportedly working on. Well, today at Google I/O, they announced Google Play Music All Access.
The service is pretty much identical to Spotify and Rdio, but is unique in one way: for the first time your music library is seamlessly integrated with the streaming cloud library. Well, so long as you upload your music to the cloud (a process that is better than before but still pretty awful). There are also the typical ‘radio’ stations found in pretty much every service.
Google also makes big claims about the recommendation and discovery engine, but I have been playing around with the service for a little while and found the library a little sparse for my particular tastes, meaning that the likelihood of getting a useful recommendation is close to zero. But I am a rarity in that my tastes are far from the mainstream. For most, time will tell if the discovery platform here is better or worse than others. One thing I will definitely bet on – just like search rankings, there will be ways to buy access and game the system … just like on the other platforms, where regardless of how much I only listen to jazz, I still get pop music recommendations! No, listening to Anthony Braxton does NOT mean I am likely to enjoy the new Beyoncé.
Given that Google’s Music service has been an unmitigated failure so far – despite owning ~75% of the world smartphone market and a monopoly in search that they regularly leverage to promote Google properties including music, they still have considerably less than 5% of digital music retail – it will be interesting to see how this goes.
Head to Google Play Music to sign up for your free trial now … and note that if you get in your free trial before June 30th, your monthly fee will only be $7.99 rather than $9.99!