Spotify execs quiver as Google launches music rival

Google Play Music All Access was launched last night at the tech giant's developer conference. 'This is radio without rules,' declared Chris Yerga, Google's engineering director.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 26 Nov 2014

Google Music is finally here. A vast library of tunes from the likes of Sony, Universal and Warner, available to stream across any device, any time. All for $9.99 a month.

Curious musos can now sign up for a 30-day free trial and test drive the service. Early adopters will be rewarded for their efforts with a discount of $2 on the monthly fee (if you sign up by June 30).

Google has managed to launch the service in record time, which could mean that it will be a little buggy at first. But the search and app giant has good reason for accelerating the launch of Google Play Music All Access (heaven knows they should have spent a little longer naming the thing). Google's speedy release has stolen a march on Apple, which is also working on the next generation of its iTunes music service. The tech giant's share price slumped 3% after Google's big reveal.

Spotify, which boasts more than six million paying subscribers and more than 24 million active users in 28 countries, is not going to relish the competition. The service was founded in 2006 and is still yet to turn a profit. Google, on the other hand, with cash reserves of $50bn, doesn't have to worry about making money for the forseeable future. It can just concentrate on winning the hearts and minds of its audience.

Google Play Music All Access is an iTunes meets Spotify meets Pandora, in that it can learn your preferences and music tastes and suggest artists, you can create and share libraries with your friends, and buy the tunes outright. 'It's as 'leanback' as you want to, or as interactive as you want to,' says Yerga. However, as the comparisons suggest, this is nothing new. But this purely iterative release could be a springboard for Google to build something much more exciting: an online streaming service spanning film, TV shows, music, games and apps, perhaps. All for one monthly fee.

With that in mind, it shouldn't just be Spotify quaking in its boots, but Lovefilm, Netflix, and OnLive too...


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