Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) appears to have taken another swipe at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) with its launch of a free music streaming service. News broke recently that Apple would launch its Apple Music streaming service on June 30. However, Google has launched its own free music service ahead of Apple in a bid to have a start over Apple.
Apple Music has gotten a lot of attention especially after Taylor Swift took on the company in a debate and had the company do a 180-degree turn in policy. It appears that Google is tapping into this attention with the launch of its free Google Play Music streaming service yesterday.
Google has been in the music streaming landscape since 2013 when it launched its Google Play Music. For $9.99 per month, users could listen to songs on demand, create a playlist, shuffle play, stream more than 30M songs, and save up to 50,000 purchased tracks at no cost.
The service has strangely not gained traction despite the depth and reach of Google’s resources. As at December 2014, the service has 817,000 subscribers in the U.S. In comparison, Spotify has 20 million paying users and Pandora has 3.8 million users. It appears that the subscription model had limited the growth of the music streaming service. Users didn’t just have the incentive to shell out 10 bucks a month the very first time they open the app.
Keeping Apple on its Toes
All these is about to change with the launch of the free Google Play Music. The free service provides users with song curated by a team of music expects and not algorithms to provide contextual relevant playlists. Hence, you can expect a relevant playlist when you are hitting the gym and another one when you are having a weekend dinner.
You can also search a song and the app will give you a playlist of related songs. All these are supported by ads that roll before a curated playlist starts playing. Users can get rid of the ads by subscribing to the $10 per month service.
The Challenge to Apple
Google’s approach to music streaming contrasts sharply with Apple’s approach. Apple offers a three-month free trial period after which you must become a paying subscriber or get off the service. The fact that Apple Music users might need to provide credit card details at the start of the trial suggests that Apple will encounter the same problems that Google initially faced with Google Play Music.
The first thing people want to do when they open a music app is not to enter their credit card details, the first thing they want to do is listen to good music.
By the way, Google has factored in Taylor Swift’s rebuttal of Apple’s policy into the equation. Google will pay royalty fees in line with previous agreements to artistes for all songs played on the trial or premium versions of Google Music Play.