Google Launches Free Music Streaming Service
But Google's free streaming service is something different altogether. First of all, it's an addition to the company's current on-demand, for-pay streaming service, Google Play Music. But more importantly, the new free tier is centered on playlists that are created by actual humans. The service allows users to select playlists geared toward different moods or times of the day curated by the team behind Songza, the playlist-generation company Google acquired last year.
Free users can't do much besides listen to the playlists they select in presdetermined order, making it more like an online radio service a la Pandora than an on-demand streamer like Spotify, albeit controlled by people instead of algorithms. Free users are limited to six skips an hour, can't rewind or scrub tracks, and can't see what's coming next on the playlist.
All of those features, however, are only available to paying Google Play Music subscribers, who can also edit and rename the playlists. Google Play Music's paid service includes on-demand streaming, but non-paying users won't have access to it.
Like Spotify, the royalty rates for Google Play Music's free tier are small-to-non-existent, versus its paid tier, which generates more income for license holders. But Google says the free service will inspire users to become paying subscribers. "Millions of people open the Google Play app, and many close it immediately, because the first thing they see is a request for a credit card," Google Play Music head Zahavah Levine told Re/code. “The key is that this radio tier is part of a holistic range of offerings.”