As expected, today Google announced a music subscription service at Google I/O 2013. Dubbed Google Music All Access, it works about the same way as Spotify, Xbox Music, and similar services and costs the same as well: $10/month. All Access integrates seamlessly with Google Play on the Web and on Android and with the music users have already uploaded to the Google Music locker. As long as you’re subscribed, music in Google’s catalog will download to your device and play right alongside the music you own.
As reported earlier, Google recently inked deals with several major music companies, including Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment. This means that the catalog of music you’ll be able to rent and stream is pretty vast. To help you find the music you like, Google updated their recommendation engine, which draws not only from your existing purchases but data from Google+. Based on this data and data about music, All Access includes smart mix playlists that draw from both the catalog and the music in your locker. The list of tracks is not only viewable, but listeners can dismiss tracks they don’t want and reshuffle the list. You can’t do that on Spotify…
It’s easy to add subscription tracks to your library either on an individual basis or whole albums. The whole experience is far smoother on Android than the same maneuver with Xbox Music over on Windows Phone. From within Google Play on Android and on the Web, finding, exploring, and adding music looks to be a seamless and rich. We’re looking forward to playing with this.
What did not materialize is the YouTube based subscription service we’ve been hearing about for a while. Perhaps it’s coming later or just isn’t happening at all.
Google Music All Access launches today and costs $10 per month. New subscribers get 30 days free to try it, and if you sign up before June 30th it will only cost $8 per month, less than the competition.
As exciting as this news is, would a Google subscription service be any better in the long run than Spotify? As our own Jeffrey Van Camp recently pointed out, services like this give you the illusion of a music collection that comes crashing down the minute you stop making monthly payments. Is it better to own or to rent in the music world?
(This post was updated from an earlier speculation post about the feature.)