Google Play Music has launched a free, ad-supported version of its streaming service that allows users to browse a massive library of 30 million songs and listen to curated playlists for many occasions. The service is currently available online and as an app for iOS and Android devices.
The playlists were compiled by “a team of music experts,” which includes employees of Songza, the latter of which is a streaming and recommendation service Google acquired in 2014. Users can filter through these pre-made stations by genre, mood, decade or activity, with the latter category further broken into genre-based stations. For instance, when “Entering Beast Mode,” users can choose between doing so while listening to “Gritty Hardcore Rap,” “Hell-Raising Indie Rock” or “Turnt Up Anthems.”
Google has been offering an ad-free subscription version of Google Play Music for some time, allowing listeners to take their music offline and use background features for music videos on YouTube. Regardless of subscription status, anyone can upload, store and play up to 50,000 songs from their own collection for free using Google Play.
In a blog post announcing the new version of Google Play Music, the internet giant heralded the free, ad-supported service for “giving you a new way to find just the right music — and giving artists another way to earn revenue” (Google’s policies and rates regarding royalties are available here). It’s a particularly noteworthy distinction that comes days after Taylor Swift blasted Apple Music in an open letter for not compensating artists during the free three month trials it will offer new users. Apple quickly reversed its decision, clearing a major hurdle that has kept independent labels like XL and Matador from signing a licensing agreement.
Swift has become an outspoken proponent for compensating artists for streaming music in recent year. She penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal last year, writing, “It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is.” Upon the release of 1989, Swift pulled her entire catalog from Spotify for similar reasons. In her letter to Apple she said she would be withholding her latest LP from their new service as well. Despite the company’s change of heart, it’s unclear whether 1989 will be available on Apple Music when it launches June 30th. Google Play Music features a Taylor Swift playlist that includes the singer’s music.