Google is rolling out a new music streaming service called All Access.
The platform, which was introduced today at the I/O developers conference in San Francisco, will be packaged as part of the Google Music ecosystem, and will include "millions" of songs. The monthly charge will be $9.99 for unlimited access, but if you sign up by the end of June, that rate gets lowered (presumably temporarily, although Google hasn't gotten specific) to $7.99 a month.
By comparison, a Spotify Unlimited subscription (which does not include an offline play mode or improved MP3 quality) costs $4.99 a month, while a Spotify Premium subscription (which does include an offline play mode and improved MP3 quality) costs $9.99 a month.
Speaking at I/O, Google reps heavily hyped the recommendation engine and organizational tools in the All Access software. "Why is it that managing my queue feels like a chore?" Google’s Chris Yerga said, according to TechCrunch. "We set up to build a music services that doesn’t just give you access to great music but also guides you through it."
The big question, of course, is whether All Access has a chance of competing with a service such as Spotify, which has approximately 20 million users around the world (including a substantial 6 million paid users). Time's Matt Peckham argues that it can, providing Google does a few things right, including removing advertisements for subscribers, instituting fair compensation for artists, and making the software universal.
"If the company launches a music service that only works natively on Android devices," Peckham writes. "it’d be a shame (and, arguably, a losing move). Spotify is available for Windows, Windows Phone, Linux, Blackberry OS, Android, iOS and OS X. A streaming Google Music service intended to rival something like Spotify needs to be at least that agnostic."
At very least, Google has beaten Apple – the company largely responsible for popularizing the online music store – to the punch when it comes to a paid, streaming subscription option. CNET reported last week that Apple was "in deep negotiations with Warner Music Group" about the possibility of signing on for some sort of Apple-branded, Pandora-like Internet radio service, although that deal appears to be at least a few months off.
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