Ahead of the June 30 Apple Music debut, Google has cunningly enabled a free streaming tier on its music subscription service called Google Play Music.
The ad-supported tier, which acts as a personalized radio station, is only available in the U.S.
It has hand-made playlists that are personalized around activity, feelings or musical tastes and designed to accompany every moment of your day. You can instantly start radio stations based on songs, artists, or albums—or browse stations by genre, mood, activity, decade and more.
Although handpicked radio stations were available to Google Play Music’s paying subscribers for quite some time now, now everyone in the United States can listen, for free, at 320Kbps.
Any track found in Google Play Music’s 30 million song strong catalog is available for free streaming through radio stations, including Taylor Swift’s back catalog. On the flip side, even though genre or activity-based playlists are human curated, radio stations based on a particular song or artist are not.
“We craft each station song by song so you don’t have to,” says Google.
They’re likely referring to their purchase of Songza last summer given that the startup specialized in finding the right music to fit your mood. Songza technology combines algorithms with contextual human curation and even does song suggestions based on the time of day and week.
There’s just one problem with Google’s radio thing.
Unlike Spotify, Google doesn’t provide controls over exactly what songs are playing; free stations are limited to six skips per hour, you cannot rewind them or see what’s coming up next nor can you save playlist for offline playback.
Google Play Music product manager Elias Roman told The Verge that average music lovers won’t mind, because all they want is for “the music to be awesome.”
“They want it to be contextually relevant, but they don’t want to tweak a lot of knobs,” he said.
The aforementioned features become available to you if you become a paid subscriber of Google Play Music for $8.99 per month (a 30-day free trial is available), in addition to such perks as ad-free, offline and background features for music videos on YouTube and the ability to upload up to 50,000 of your own songs and then stream them to iOS and Android devices for free, or listen to them on the web.
The new ad-supported version of Google Play Music is available on the web today, and is rolling out this week to Android and iOS, the Internet giant said.