Last year, Google launched the "Google Play Music All Access" music streaming service, which was similar to Spotify. However, there wasn't any free version of it like you can get with Spotify, but Google has now announced a free tier as well for "curated" music playlists, enabled by the Songza acquisition from last year.
Google's ad-supported curated music service is essentially a "radio-like" service where you listen to music that was chosen for you. This may not be as good as being able to select your own songs to play, but the service is free as long as you are willing to listen to a few ads every few songs. Also, some users may like that there's still that serendipity factor that makes listening to music more interesting and engaging than knowing ahead of time exactly what song is going to play.
Google will still allow users to choose a "type" of music they like, such as music for driving, working out, having fun at work, unwinding and so on. Google is still trailing Spotify's service here, which allows users to choose any song they want, even with the free version of the service.
Google's ad-supported service also doesn't have live radio broadcasts like Apple Music, or DJs who can introduce users to new artists. Most people may not care about that, though, and may just want a more "lean back" experience. Songza was getting great reviews for this type of curated service before Google acquired it, so if Google can maintain that momentum, the new service might become quite compelling. It also doesn't cost anything to try it.
Google hopes that by getting hooked on the ad-supported music service, you'll eventually want to sign up for the $10 per month paid service, wherein you can choose your own songs from the 30 million available. You also won't have to listen to any ads, you can store the songs offline, and you'll be able to play YouTube video songs in the background.
Unfortunately, Google's new ad-supported music service is U.S.-only right now and probably will be for a while until the search giant gets the rights to stream this type of service in other countries. It didn't take Google too long to push Google Play Music All Access into most countries, so it's possible this won't take too long either, especially considering it's only a subset of the main service.
The free ad-supported service is now available on the web. Android and iOS apps will be rolling out this week, according to Google.
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Bah. I'll stick to the YouTube music selection and just dial the quality down to 140p. :-|