Google Developers Event Held In San Francisco

Google’s ventures in the world beyond search have been hit-or-miss. Chrome? Love it. Google+? Eh, not so much. Google Wave? Seriously, remember waiting for an invite to Google Wave? Those things were going for like $70 a hit on eBay! Google Music pretty much died on the vine when it beta-launched in 2011, but the civilization-consuming monolith is back in the game as of now with Google Play All Access, which was unveiled at Google I/O earlier today, and launches in the US, um, later today.

The new streaming service is an attempt to get a piece of the still-cooling pie currently being crushed by Spotify and Pandora. The hard numbers are thus: You get a 30-day free trial; after that, subscriptions run $10 a month (same as Spotify Premium in the States), with an early-bird fee of $8 per month. While I personally haven’t fucked with it yet, Gizmodo has some details:

Google claims that All Access is better for discovery than others. From what we can see so far it’s an on-demand meets radio service with the personalization options you would expect. It works on phones, tablets and web browsers.

The innovation comes from the degree to which it’s easy to switch between the hands-on and hands-off experiences. If you don’t know what you want to listen to you can just hit “Listen Now” and start listening to something right away. When you want to geek out on Google’s huge on-demand catalog, you can do that too.

Whether it’s better for the end consumer remains to be seen; it sounds to me like the music snob (talking to you, Stereogum reader) might be better served by Spotify, but who knows how the respective products will evolve. More important to my mind is the cost at which this comes to artists. Right now, AFAIK, Spotify operates at a loss, with the (perhaps unrealistic) belief that subscriber numbers will eventually rise to the point of break-even. That’s a serious drag, because artists (“content producers” as they are known in the corporate world) are currently being fed only the smallest fragments of flattened crumbs lining the tray of the aforementioned pie. If Google somehow undercuts even that infinitesimal percentage … well, “professional musician” is going to become a substantially less lucrative field.

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Comments (25)
  1. Yeah, what makes this better than spotify? What google seems to be unable to realize, between this and google +, is that when people settle on a default (facebook, spotify), it takes a LOT to disrupt that. Say what you will about spotify, but I’m comfortable using it, and the mere existence of a google alternative isn’t enough to change the routine.

  2. Nothing will be better than Spotify….unless you have an extensive collection of music and stream it through your cloud to your portable tech devices…..oh and BTW, Stereogum staff, new QOTSA album ‘Like Clockwork’ has leaked…just for your FYI…cheers..

  3. I gave up on Spotify awhile ago. Rdio is my current service. It may not have the extensive catalog that Spotify has, but to be fair, Rdio is adding new albums every day. More over, it’s UI isn’t a disgusting, unwieldy brick. Their mobile apps are pretty amazing as well.

    All that said, I may be a bit of a Google fanboy, so odds are I will try this and if it proves to be anywhere near as good as Rdio/Spotify, I’ll more than likely switch.

    Google are like the Borg, you’ll get assimilated eventually.

    • Seconded. Rdio is so much nicer to use than Spotify. If Google can create an even better product, then I look forward to using it.

  4. EA is more of The Borg than Google…if I were to do a star trek alien species comparison to them, Google are the Klingons, fighting among themselves and buying out any new app tech when they can..

  5. #music, Google Music, Spotify, Rdio, Soundcloud, myspace music, Last.fm, pandora, itunes, etc. It seems like advertising > music. Which is unfortunate when you think about the artists and the listeners. I know we live in an instanteous world where we need everything at our fingertips, but I just long for the days of waiting for a cd to come out, getting in my car and driving to the FYE (The Wall), or equivalent Indie Record Store in later years and handling a cd. Maybe I’m too old fashioned, or too nostalgic, but I just want the music.

  6. Am I the only person left in the world using Rhapsody?

    • Dude, Rhapsody used to be my life. My family subscribed to it while I was in middle school/high school and it played a huge role in my musically formative experiences. I always looked forward to the days when I put together those 19 songs or so (it seemed 20 songs was always just over 80 minutes) and burned a new mix CD. I remember a specific CD I burned in middle school that featured a song each from Sum 41, P.O.D., and the Strokes, back before I realized that one of those bands was CONSIDERABLY better than the other two, haha. And you could stream all the songs with no limits back then. Man I loved Rhapsody. Haven’t used it in years though.

  7. I agree with Matthew – who I can’t reply to for some reason. Anyway, yes, they will get some subscribers but ultimately they’re jumping in the game too late. I think anyway. Unless they offer something Spotify can’t or they go cheaper. They should focus on making google glasses less ugly and ridiculous looking.

  8. Google Music died on the vine!?! Not here. It’s amazing. I’ve uploaded my entire library of about 100 gigs (over 1000 albums) to Google Music and have access to it on my phone or through a web browser anywhere and everywhere. It stays up to date because if I add anything to my music library on my computer it automatically gets uploaded to Google Music. Google also will create mixes, which I’ve found to be pretty good. All this is free. I use it everyday and it’s become my default music player/manager/backup. I’ll pass on the Play Anywhere service, I’ve got all I want for free with my own library.

    Geez, this sounds like a Google advert. I don’t care, what Google is offering for free is unreal. Why others don’t take advantage of this and pay for a subscription service is beyond me.

    • Yes, Google Music is still here and I really like it as a library. I can open it in my browser at work and all of the music I own is available to me in an easy interface. The Android app is near-perfect too.

      I’ve not purchased many albums through Google Music – the ‘Play’ shop is good too, but I still buy virtually everything on CD and then rip it. So I have wondered if everyone else is just taking advantage of the library storage (having got their music elsewhere) and never buying mp3s from Google, which was obviously the hopeful source of revenue…I don’t know whether whole venture currently considered a failure or a success.

      If it’s not working out, I thought perhaps this new ‘All Access’ Spotify-style streaming thing is meant to sweep Google Music aside, but I just loaded my library up in my browser and I see they’ve rejigged the layout today. I suppose they wouldn’t bother redesigning it if it’s about to vanish.

  9. Are they gonna pay the artists more than Spotify does? That’s probably the only reason I would switch to Google music from Spot.

    • Here’s the continuing problem, Tyler, the royalty rating system is still so flawed that artists still don’t make enough money to live. And I’m not talking about ‘successful established musical acts’, I’m talking about the indie artists out there whom still, under the current royalty system, get an average of only $3-$4 profit per album sold and less than 40-50 cents per dollar download of a single. Legit stream sites, from Pandora-Spotify, operate under the same system…so I expect a few more cents per listen may be thrown out but alas…they still aren’t paid enough…

    • Here’s the other problem. Google has negotiated royalty deals directly with the labels. Now, the standard royalty agreement that most streaming services operate under guarantees and 50/50 split between artists and labels, but when a company makes their own deals with the labels, as opposed to using the standard license, the labels are not bound by that 50/50 split, meaning the labels will probably make a few more cents by giving less to the artists. (I should add that I’m not sure which model Spotify is working under, so it could be doing the same thing.)

  10. Spot is basically a hybrid of LaLa which Apple (The Evil Empire) swooped in and bought when it remotely threatened their efforts for world domination a few years back. With LaLa, the only difference was that you could only stream it once, then you’d have to buy it in order to continue listening to it, and even then it’d go into some ghetto LaLa library that you could only listen to on site. It’s all great, but I gotta say, my music purchasing has slowed down tremendously since Spotifys inception. We as listeners have things like NPR givin us First Listens, Pitchforks Advance, iTunes pre release streams and Christ, even some bands stream their upcoming albums on their own websites. And, lest not forget the occasional mixtape that can sometimes bring unpredicted joy. By the time the actual albums get released I’ve already played it as much as I want which ends up being the death blow to what used to be very exciting Tuesday release days for me. Even worse, I really don’t need to end up paying for the damn thing cuz I’m tossing a mere $10 a month to listen to, well, everything I want to on Spotify! It’s almost silly for me to go buy it at that point.

    The only thing I could see working with this new Google service is if it gave ya the ability to synch with your Gmail, Samsung/Android phone and maybe tie it into some sorta purchasing ease which I’m sure it’ll do – maybe even does for all I know, I’m having trouble keepin up these days. If that’s the case, then I’ll switch cuz I’m already drinkin that Kool Aid. Amazon currently does that whole purchase/file transfer well on phones along with iTunes which is pretty much the only way I buy these days, and why not? Goes right to my phone, heads to the Cloud, synchs to my car or my cpu when I USB it and let’s me run with my whole music library in my hand. I can plug and play virtually anywhere and without the clutter of scratched CD’s boggin me down. Even worse, I can streamline the whole process and just live off Spotify. Only downer is that I can’t burn a physical copy. Musicians have finally gotta realize the whole stream thing is costin them serious coins (literally) and fight back.

    On a side relative side note, It’s actually been a little refreshing waiting impatiently for The Nationals album to come out next week because they haven’t (legally) leaked it, which is cool, and the first time that’s happened in a long time with bands new releases that I’m excited to hear. I’d be curious to see how that translates into sales for them as opposed to the way most bands are doing it these days.

    • Actually you can listen to the National on iTunes already. Sorry to ruin it for you…

    • I’ve actually bought more albums since using Spotify, and truly believe that it’s because I’m able to listen to albums first, and legally, that I have no problem going out and buying a band’s cd. I’d also have no problem paying 20$ or 25$ a month instead of ten. It’s simple, easy, and for the most part (Where’s the new VW album?!) has a pretty stacked library. Spotify, or music streaming apps in general, can work, ideally anyway. Will they, at least to the point where they can benefit the artist? Ehh Idk, I haven’t built my business model for it yet, but I definitely think it’s possible.

  11. reinventing the wheel…

  12. I have spotify AND Rdio. How much music does one person need anyway???? This is just another attempt by Google to gain access to ALL areas of our lives…

  13. Well, there’s always datpiff

  14. I still enjoy NPR and music journalism to find new music, call me old fashioned. Whenever I get an email from Spotify regarding “Artists You’ll Love” I tend to know them, and like them or don’t. There is no formula for what you may like, that’s why radio’s (npr) spontaneity awesome. I’ll take 90.7 WFUV over spotify and google any day, ‘Murica!

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