Google Play Music streaming now free ahead of Apple

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By Larry Banks

Google has just launched a free version of its music streaming service this week, as it attempts to upstage the debut of Apple’s rival service, Apple Music, which is confirmed to launch next week.

Google Play Music is now free

Google Play Music has already offered a $9.99 per month subscription for several years, but the launch this week is the first free version of the service. It’s available online and will also be available on Android and iOS by the end of this week, according to Elias Roman, a Google product manager.

Apple said earlier this month at its WWDC event, that it would launch its Apple Music streaming service on June 30th for $9.99, or just $14.99 for a family of 6 people, and that it comes with a free three month trial.

And just like rival streaming services such as Spotify and Rhapsody, Google Play Music also features curated playlists. Users can also tailor their own playlists based on genre, artist, or even on their activity such as “pool party” or “having fun at work”.

“We believe this is a play that will expose a lot of people to the service”, said Elias Roman.

Unlike the subscription service, the free version will have ads. It will also be unavailable offline and will exclude some songs.

Roman said that millions of people look at Google Play Music every month but many are not ready to pay for a subscription. With the free version, he said the company hopes that more people will be compelled to then pay for an upgraded version.

Ted Cohen of TAG Strategic, a digital entertainment consultancy, said the timing of Google’s launch was strategic.

“It’s a smart time to do it with all the attention around Apple”, Cohen said. “If they did it absent the Apple service, it wouldn’t be the same story”.

Google has not revealed just how many paying subscribers it has, but it does claim that they have more than doubled in 2014 from the previous year. Rivals Pandora, Spotify and Beats Music though had far more mobile downloads than Google Play Music in 2014, according to data from App Annie.

SOURCE: Reuters.

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