On Tuesday of this week, Google introduced its new Google Play Music service, just seven days before the anticipated launch of Apple’s Apple Music. The free, ad-supported device offers playlists built to be the soundtrack to your everyday life. However, these handpicked (by Songza) playlists aren’t new, as they were offered to paying Google Play subscribers last year. This feature is now available on the web and Android, with an update for iOS expected soon.
As opposed to on-demand services like Spotify, Google decided that pre-crafted playlists were a better idea. Although Spotify does have paying subscribers, the company is constantly under fire for allowing users to enjoy free tier service as well. Many believe that Spotify grossly underpays artists and musicians for their music. Google is attempting to avoid this criticism by only offering “music radio,’ much like Pandora. Pay customers will have a more diverse catalog of music featured in the radio option on Google Play Music.
While Spotify allows users to have control over the music they listen to, Google Play Music’s product manager, Elias Roman, believes that users don’t necessarily want this control. In an interview with The Verge, Roman explained that users “…want the music to be awesome. They want it to be contextually relevant, but they don’t want to tweak a lot of knobs.” The company believes in “humans over algorithms,” meaning they use real people to program as much as humanly possible. Google Music Play’s playlists are handcrafted, therefore any mood, genre, decade, or activity-based playlist a user picks was actually created by a human.
Like many of its competitors, Google Music Play’s free service has limited features compared to its paying subscribers. Free users are only allowed six skips per hour, which is an industry standard. Users are able to pause tracks, but they do not have the capability to rewind or fast-forward through songs. Paying users are able to have full control over playlists and the music they choose to listen to.
Unlike Apple’s upcoming updated Apple Music, Google is not offering 24/7 broadcasts or popular DJs introducing users to new artists. For those who don’t mind the ads, Google Play Music’s app is user-friendly and appealing to the eye. Although the company will not announce its number of subscribers, it’s safe to assume the number is not nearly as high as Spotify’s. With so many options in the music streaming world, users have the ability to see which service fits best.