Better fashionably late than never.
Google joins the digital music dance party in Canada with the launch today of Google Play Music, a streaming service that will give subscribers access to more than 25 million songs, from red-hot beats to mouldy oldies.
Available as of now, Google Play Music shoulders its way into an ever-crowded field of streaming music competitors, including Rdio, Slacker, Deezer, Sony Music Unlimited and Xbox Music, among others. Google seems to be aiming for an all-things-to-all-people approach, combining commonplace features like customized streaming radio stations with free cloud-based storage of up to 20,000 songs, and subscription features that include access to a catalogue of 25 million tracks.
As is the Google way, Google Play Music will monitor users’ listening habits, using that data – along with algorithms designed by Google’s in-house team of music geeks – to suggest songs that the listener might enjoy. An “I’m Feeling Lucky” button will launch a streaming radio station that Google thinks will appeal to that person’s tastes.
The service will also allow music buffs to upload their own tunes to the cloud for sharing across all their devices – phones, tablets and computer web browsers – using a matching process to determine if the user’s songs are already in Google’s own database, negating the need to upload duplicate tracks.
In an interesting display of competitor cooperation, Apple acolytes can export their iTunes libraries to Google Play Music, keeping their playlists and track ratings intact. Although Google maintains the service is seamless on Android devices, Google Play Music will have an iOS app that offers nearly all of the same features as its Android counterpart.
All-access subscriptions to Google Play Music, which allows users unlimited playback and download of the service’s 25 million songs, is free for the first 30 days, and $9.99 per month afterwards. Canadian subscribers who sign up before June 30 can lock in at a rate of $7.99 per month for as long as they maintain their subscription.
After movies, books and games, Google’s all-access music service is the latest piece of the Google Play puzzle to click into place in Canada, although the service has been available in the U.S. since last May.
“Our service is a very comprehensive service, with a free locker, a cloud-based store and a subscription service. It’s complicated,” said Zahavah Levine, Google’s Director of Global Music Partnerships. “It took some time to hammer out the agreements with the local collection societies, but we worked hard together to make it happen.”