Google joins the streaming subscription game with their updated music service All Access, competing against Spotify and Rdio. Though new and shinny, don’t expect much from the service, at least not initially.
As intriguing as a music subscription service from Google may seem, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t get your hopes up without a healthy dose of skepticism to match. A few years back, also an I/O announcement, Google unveiled the first Google Music which has since turned out to be a huge dud, more than anyone could have predicted. At the time, the climate was such that Google was joining Amazon to provide a music locker of a users uploaded music library, a way to get around the need for licensing music in the cloud. Ultimately though, very few cared to jump through the amount of hoops needed to integrate the service into the way they listened to music.
Rumors of a ‘confirmed Google music subscription service’ spread just a day before the announcement with the biggest news being that they’d gotten all the major music labels onboard. Pricing is set at $9.99/month, with those signing up in the first month getting access for $7.99/month. Unlike Spotify, Google Play Music All Access currently has no free tier. There is a 30 day free trial available.
The biggest issue Google faces with their music initiatives, and reason to be skeptical, is that they’re always competing against the rumors of what other companies may or may not be doing, primarily Apple. They tend to swing in the dark with things they think they should be doing, rather than having a clear path and reason for getting into music in the first place. Google’s All Access experience on day one is similar to the day before, that’s to say it’s Google Music just with access to music outside your personal library. There’s the obligatory radio service that tries to guess what songs you’ll like, along with the ability to swipe those you don’t care for out of the playlist. There’s nothing more compelling than the service you currently use. This effort also won’t convince those not already using a music subscription service.
Google Play Music store has done little to nothing to further music sales. Their Artist Hub is a bold and brilliant move for independent artists, but no one takes advantage of the service. The opportunity for unsigned artists to sell directly through Google Play could be a huge win, yet most still opt for Bandcamp or other services. Independent artists currently selling through Google Play Music can indeed flip a switch and allow their music to easily show up in All Access.
If the only thing Google brings to the table with this move into subscription music, is the threat of competition, it will have been worth it. They just can’t do the bare minimum with features and apps, however, and expect to gain any traction in a difficult space. Currently the only option to share a song is through Google+, demonstrating some of the out-of-touch thinking going on with Google and music.