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Google Play Music – free, ad-supported radio (officialandroid.blogspot.com)
221 points by spankalee on June 23, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 177 comments

This is a nice additional option, but I won't be cancelling my subscription. I hate ads.

What I want to see from Google Play Music (aside from a name change) is:

- Keep improving music discoverability. It has become better, but could be further improved.

- Family plan. I want to pay $15/month and give it to my wife and kid.

- Fix the strange YouTube bug, where if I hit pause on Play Music, and then start a YouTube video within a few seconds I get an error telling me I am already playing media on that device (or similar). What does YouTube have to do with Google Play Music anyway? YouTube is ad supported, Google Play isn't. There is no cross-over. This issue shouldn't be a "thing." Plus I might be watching a YouTube video muted and listening to music (yes, people do that!).

- The new interface is arguably a step backwards (just like every Google Maps update). You keep "simplifying" away functionality.

- The offline playback stuff continues to be pretty clunky to set up. If I know I am going on a road trip and will be driving out of range, actually adding that music to the device is a huge pain, and often the easiest way is just to leave the device playing music for days and let it build up a cache. Horrible.

"The offline playback stuff continues to be pretty clunky to set up. If I know I am going on a road trip and will be driving out of range, actually adding that music to the device is a huge pain, and often the easiest way is just to leave the device playing music for days and let it build up a cache. Horrible."

It's not obvious but the way to do this is to "pin" (aka mark as keeping for offline) playlists on the device. Create a few travel playlists, pin them on the device, put the device on wifi or change the data settings in the app, go to the web client and mass drag and drop songs onto the travel playlists. I manage about 6 GB worth of offline music this way and it works decently. Once in a while you have to go into settings and tap "Refresh Music" to get it to recognize a new playlist but I maybe do that once a month.

This is my favorite feature of the service (Spotify has this, as well). The best part is you can pin a playlist and it auto-updates when you add songs. When I'm going out of the country I'll create a 'Trip to XX' playlist, pin it, and then over the days/weeks leading up to the trip add things to it. The app auto-downloads as you do so.

It also does it across devices! I have a crappy old smartphone w/o a sim card that I use for running, and have a running playlist pinned to it.

I can be listening at work, add a song to the playlist, and then back at home the device automatically downloads the new song over wifi for when I go running. (I'm sure spotify does this too)

> - Family plan. I want to pay $15/month and give it to my wife and kid.

This is what's stopping me from paying for it. I already pay for Pandora, and my wife and I are able to share that. Sharing an entire google account isn't going to happen.

Linking Google accounts might but you're right it has high potential to get "Netflixed" with people sharing the service amongst their friends.

> What does YouTube have to do with Google Play Music anyway? YouTube is ad supported, Google Play isn't. There is no cross-over.

There is actually cross-over, whether you like it or not (most people don't). Youtube Music Key: https://www.youtube.com/musickey


> whether you like it or not (most people don't)

I say YouTube is probably the number one way most teenagers actually listen to music. This isn't music videos mostly. It is pictures of the cover art and the music. I seriously listen to my music through YouTube in another and I am rarely disappointed in not finding the music I am looking for.

What is not to like. I can listen with the screen turned off. I use this feature to listen to one off podcast I would like to list to and the YouTube play list made by users are amazing. Also to have no ads while listening to YouTube music is great.

There used to be a feature in the youtube app for android to enable background play. It was removed because now they want you to pay for it. That's not to like.

No ads is nice, but useless for anyone who is willing/able to install an ad blocker on their phone. You can promote content producers more effectively by spending the money you would drop on a subscription on buying an album, going to a show, subscribing on Twitch or becoming a patron on Gratipay anyway.

Offline access is nice, but other commentors claim it's "clunky", and if it's not especially convenient, then it doesn't give me anything I havent been able to do for the last decade with youtube downloader apps.

So really all it does is make the mobile background play a paid feature, which is obnoxious.

Further, they started banning apps that used the YouTube API to background audio when YouTube's v3 API shipped last month.

It's very anti-user, I use it to listen to longer podcasts in the background.

Worth rooting for: http://repo.xposed.info/module/com.pyler.youtubebackgroundpl...

It was never an official API it was a goo hack.


Fair enough. But it is still a bug that even after pausing All Access, YouTube takes a complete reload to work.

It's pretty nice to not have to deal with ads while watching live shows, music videos, etc on youtube. For me it was a welcomed addition to what I was already paying for.

Play Music's Youtube integration is a pointless distraction that makes me less likely to continue to pay for the service, not more.

If I want to watch music videos I'll go to the Youtube app. So damn annoying when I accidently tap the play video hover button when I really meant to swipe to the next song.

If it weren't for YouTube's popularity I'd say the integration was a sign of desperation.

A family plan is so sorely needed, even more so on other the Play properties. I don't buy Play books because I can't share them. TV shows are a pain because we have to watch every episode together.

In addition, you can't gift things. There's been several occasions I've wanted to gift apps and games to people I know.

All of this, and I'd also love a way to pin radio stations.

Google Music keeps track of every radio station you create and listen to, but it is sorted by last played in a single list.

I have 10 radio stations that I really enjoy, but I try to not try out too many new ones in case I lose the ones I really like. It has happened a few times.

The "save queue" option is nice... but it destroys any discoverability off that station because it is now a static playlist.

You can pin radio stations. Unfortunately it only grabs a handful of songs at the top of the playlist. So dumb.

Edit: Radio station downloading now seems to grab at least twice the amount it used to. Which puts it firmly in the "meh" category when it comes to usefulness.

Yeah "Google Play Music All Access Unlimited" is a truly horrible product name (not to mention un-Googleable if you mix up even one of the words).

For a company that understands Google searchability very well (since they wrote the search engine itself), this has a certain kind of irony.

What does YouTube have to do with Google Play Music anyway?

You may not have noticed if you use an adblocker, but your Google Music subscription now removes ads on music videos on YouTube (as well as the ability to save videos offline on your Android device)

>You keep "simplifying" away functionality.

Could you explain what you have lost exactly ?

>The offline playback stuff continues to be pretty clunky to set up.

What is your issue with it ? In my experience, it works fairly well.

I am genuinely curious

I pinned some albums to download them to my device. I paused that for a bit.


I don't how to make it start downloading them again.

Sidebar > Settings > Manage Downloads (at least on Android).

I agree that this is sub-optimal, but I think up until recently it was actually impossible unless you started another download and tapped the notification.


I sometimes start syncing an album before commuting. It stumble and stops in the metro but starts again by itself afterwards.

I am not sure what the default behavior of the app is. Probably to only download while on wifi, so it does not kill your data allocation. Again, you need to go in the settings in order to change this. Better than having angry users I guess.

I want to add Last.fm scrobbling - I don't understand why Apple, Amazon, and Google ignore this.

I use the last.fm app and it detects everything very well from Google Play, both from the All Access service and my own downloaded songs. Have you tried that yet?

I do use it, but it's not too challenging to have this natively supported.

I agree that the offline playback is clunky. I don't want to have to remember to pin stuff, or try to build up a cache. I just want to allocate some local storage and have most-recently-played cache of songs. If I allocate a couple of GB of storage that would be plenty of music for a road trip.

Is that a lot different from what happens now? Right now if you check the "Cache during playback", you'll get the recent songs saved. Also anything that's pinned is always saved. What goes out of cache is a bit magic, but it's unlikely to be the very recent stuff.

I think the difference that I would like is to have the offline cache on the phone sync to my playlist history across devices. So, if I'd been listening on the web client, or another device, then I'd like my phone to download all those recently-played songs and just have them available.

I agree with almost all of these, except that I like the new UI.

offline works great for me on Android and is pretty simple to set up. are you on iOS?

I enjoy Google Play Music and use it daily (the paid version). I prefer it over Spotify/Rdio/Beats because it works better with Google Now voice actions, and I can run it well on every device I care to.

My remaining problem with it is their device limit. You can have 10 total devices, but you can deauthorize only 4 per year. This sounds like a lot but if you switch phones often or flash new ROMs you can use it up pretty quickly. In addition, if you upload music to the service the computer you use counts as a device. Once you're at your limit there's little you can do and you have no information on when you'll get a device deauthorization "credit" again. I had to call Google to get a one-time reset of my authorizations but it would be nice if they could modernize this some; such as by only using an authorization if you download music to the device for offline listening.

My bigger issue that two clients cannot be listening to music at the same time, even if you're a paying member.

I'll often forget to stop streaming the music at work and start listening to it on the bus on the way home. My workstation at work then fights for control of the service with my phone and every other song drops out with "another device is using the service".

And the really stupid thing happens if you try and play a youtube video while listening to music. It freaks out about playing a youtube video at the same time.

Whichever genius at Google came up with that one deserves a rapid promotion into the tiers of bureaucracy.

I suspect you need to have a talk to the MPAA/RIAA for that...

Weird I've done that before but I didn't even know until i went back to the other device. It's only happened twice that I left it running on a radio station though.

As a workaround i've setup Chrome Remote Desktop at any PC i use, so I can easily connect to them without much network hassle and turn off stuff like Google Music.

Seems like a pop-up implementing this would be ideal, since it's most often accidental: "Hey, this is still running on another device, and you're only allowed 1 device at a time - do you want me to remotely kill the other device's Google Music session?"

After all, most of the time it's not another human using both sessions at once.

Didn't they remove the 4 per year limit pretty much instantly after the initial backlash ?

They did for a while, and then put it back. It is still there (at least the text on the web client says so).

You can request Developer status and they'll remove the deauthorization limit.

I couldn't find anything about this through some searching. Do you have any link with further information?

how much of the general public do you think flashes ROMs?

Probably a small percentage, but with competing services having no such restrictions I don't see why GPM should.

My Google play killer feature happened other day and wasn't even announced. They increased the amount of music you can store from 20.000 to 50.000. I have a very large collection of independent Brazilian music. You can't find these kind of music in any streaming service. Now I can have a cloud backup of all my music for free! And I also can here it anywhere. I even bought a new CD reader and resumed to rip my music collection.

My great fear of these services is that you will have a less diverse music ecosystem. Sure the average Anglo-American listener has a lot more options, but if you want to learn about other cultures, you are toast.

I thought they did this in February? I specifically joined when it was announced.


https://play.google.com/store/music/category/WORLD - it's a decent start, and it'll almost certainly continue to get larger.

Why is it always a surprise to folks that Google Play Music exists? Everyone talks about Pandora, Spotify, Apple, or Amazon, but Google Play Music is never in the conversation.

I use it and it's great.

I definitely agree. I normally use Songza, but while out of country I had to give a different service a try. I did the one month trial, and it was fantastic.

Compared to every other service I've now tried (Songza, Spotify, Grooveshark, Rdio), Play Music is great!

Fwiw, Songza is actually in Google Music. Google bought Songza a while back, and a couple/few months later Songza playlists were available in Google Music.

It was nice because i could then cache my favorite Songza playlists and cache them on my Google Music App. Handy

For sure, that's part of why I love Google Music. They included Songza's "mood and activity" playlist picker, which is great.

My biggest issue with Songza was the lack of selection. They have some great playlists, but after listening all day they get pretty repetitive. Google Play seemed to have the benefits of Songza with way more selection.

Probably because their stuff is mostly only available in the US.

That's not really true in my experience. Used it in many European and other countries and it worked just fine. Sometimes some artists are service/region-limited, but that's because of their stupid labels - this mostly affects the top100 ones.

Where did you run into issues with play music?

It probably needs a catchier name and more marketing

> It probably needs a catchier name

What's not catchy about "Google Play Music All Access"? ;)

Google Zune

I.E the 'Google Photos' treatment. Now that Google's got the playbook for that rebrand down, hopefully they'll apply it to some more of their overlooked products.

I have always found the web interface to be quite slow.

The sound quality leaves much to be desired.

This varies quite a bit, but I've noticed it a lot more with music that uses studio compression to get more 'volume' than with music mastered for clarity.

How? It's 320kbps.

Bitrate doesn't necessarily correlate with audio quality, you can even perceive noise or a drop of quality in the audio of the less popular songs.

I'm seriously thinking that Google just licensed the audio they're streaming, but they didn't even care about getting proper audio files and they're simply streaming the audio their users uploaded.

I highly doubt that. The risk is too high.

In my country there was a big scandal a few years ago when a couple of radio stations started playing Billboard Hot 100 songs. I guess they couldn't source the new songs in time from reputable sources for some reason (licensing restrictions, logistical failure, no idea...).

So they simply downloaded them from local torrent trackers. The thing blew up, because a guy that was uploading and seeding the albums put his own catchy promotional jingle in the middle of most songs.

I had the same observation about Google Play Music Radio's audio quality and came on here searching for the bit rate and codec thinking it must be lower for the free radio product in order to segment and further differentiate the paid tier (many services like Spotify, Rdio, and Pandora do this). I'm using an external DAC+headphone amp. Also, note that the codec matters. AAC is supposedly twice as efficient as MP3. iTunes Radio, which streams at 256kbps AAC, sounds better to me.

How so?

A bit offtopic but I am a Google Play Music subscriber. I switched to them over Spotify because they had a much better UI and UX. I use these music services at the radio mode mostly and I am pretty sure Spotify's designers primary concern was how to make users' experience miserable.

Unfortunately Google seems to follow the trend nowadays. Take for example the Play Music Radio Page. There is a list with photos and titles of my favorite songs. For every song there are 4 links, one on the thumbnail, one on the play button inside the thumbnail, one on the title of the song and one under the thumbnail that opens a menu with additional options. The thing is that none of these links and options plays the song displayed. Clicking on the song's title, plays an entirely different song!

Even worse and I think this may indicates the absence of serious dogfooding, is that I can't anymore select text on the page. Same did spotify. So I can't play the song and I can't copy-paste its title in the search bar. Instead I either have to type the title manually or go and search my library.

UI/UX is subjective. My recent thoughts on the new UX from google is that it's bloody awful.

When I just want to listen to some random music I just play my thumbs up playlist. But every time I open Google play, you have to click to open the hamburger menu because menus are no longer trendy on desktop sites. Want to have a list of what's playing be your homepage? Impossible in the new google play, you can only view the playlist in a popup.

Also, it's terrible for music discovery and totally (if unintentionally) chauvinistic. Their algo is bloody awful, it seems to use one song as the basis for "I'm feeling lucky" and never mixes up genres. Also, related artists to females? Other females! I like quite a few female artists, but if you click "I'm feeling lucky" there's a 20% chance google music will only play me female artists. And it will spiral into genres I don't even like and have no songs thumbed up, purely because they're female too. It will never play related artists from a different sex. I've got a couple of screenies somewhere of a list of 50 odd songs recommended to me, all female artists.

> Their algo is bloody awful, it seems to use one song as the basis for "I'm feeling lucky" and never mixes up genres.

Okay, so is the problem that "I'm feeling lucky" is bad because it "never mixes up genres", or...

> if you click "I'm feeling lucky" there's a 20% chance google music will only play me female artists. And it will spiral into genres I don't even like and have no songs thumbed up, purely because they're female too.

...is the complaint that "I'm feeling lucky" is bad because it does mix in genres you don't like based on the sex of the artist?

Because it can't be both.

The main problem is that "I'm feeling lucky" picks a random song and then plays that song's station.

It isn't a "random station", basically the issue is that it never reseeds from your data.

So it's nothing like a station that's good for music discovery based on your previous choices, it's just discovery based on a previous choice.

I'm sure Google could design better, but it's probably just low priority.

This is why such a feature is very hard to get right :-) .

So far all the music tastes detection algorithms I have seen are pretty awful.

The radio algorithm is good though, much better than spotify's.

For example I listen to a lively rock or pop song and ask “play music” to start a radio station based on that; it will continue with lively songs of the same genre.

On contrary spotify would either continue with rock ballads or slow pop songs. It seemed to me that spotify doesn't understand the context of the song (not sure if this is the right word), instead it reads a generic genre and tries to play something from the billboards. It would continue with ballads even when I started a radio station with a power/death/thrash metal song!

We have a very active dogfood group internally.

It's likely, even with a lot of internal users, that none of us have hit the text selection problem, or haven't reported it (or there's some technical or prioritization reason for it). I'll look into it and report it to the group though!

Please do, thank you very much! This is an issue only on the radio page currently.

With spotify you can't select text anywhere. It was one of the most serious shortcomings for me because when I listen to a song and want to learn more about it, the web-browser way is “select -> right click -> search with google”. :)

After a quick look the only place I couldn't select text was on the radio station cards, after you choose an activity (probably because the whole card is a link).

Are there others?

This is the only one I found so far. The real problem with the radio station cards' page is that although you show me some songs, I have no way to play any of them, either directly (1 click) or indirectly (2-3 clicks).

Honest question, why do I have to click the hamburger menu on the desktop? Why isn't the menu shown by default?

Your recent redesigns consistently suck ass on desktop.

Internally, they actually had this responsive at one point, where the menu would be by default open on large screens and hidden with the option to expand it on smaller screens. Also not sure why they changed it.

1) They're not my designs, I just dogfood. 2) I don't know :)

My main issue with Google Play Music is that they don't have a desktop app. I wouldn't even care if their desktop app was a wrapper around their HTML player. I just want keyboard music controls from my desktop and the ability to Cmd+Tab to the music app instead of hunting down the browser tab. Without a desktop app, using Google Play Music is disruptive to my workflow.

You can make any website a webwrapper "desktop app" using Chrome/Chromium's "Create application shortcuts..." in its More Tools menu. It just opens the website without any browser chrome, and prompts you to create a desktop shortcut for it. For a while, this was what Slack was recommending to Windows users for a "native" application, and it is still what they recommend to Linux users (see the bottom of the page here: https://slack.com/getting-started).


That feature is not in Mac Chrome, and it does not help with listening offline.

You can use the Google Play Music Chrome extension[1] to fix that.

[1]: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-play-music/...

I remember using that extension a while ago, and I forget why I found it lacking. It seems to work pretty well now. Thanks for the reminder.

Yep. It has other features that I never use, but the media key functionality is great.

I'm pretty sure the Google Play Music web app can respond to media keys, at least in Chrome. Here's someone describing how to disable it:


Have you looked at Radiant Player?


I tried this for a while and it was slow and crashed pretty much every time I used it. Sucks because it was exactly what I needed.

Creator of Radiant Player here. Performance and memory issues were a problem in the past and unfortunately have resurfaced in the latest release (1.4.0), but I am looking into them!

Thanks! I really want to use it so Ill be looking out for future releases

Hi there, do you know what's up with HTML5 audio lately?

When did you try it the last time? I never had stability issues with recent versions. Sometimes (very seldom) it ends up eating 100% CPU, but restarting it fixes that.

Very nice app but I uninstalled after awhile because I want to get rid of Adobe Flash Player. It (the Adobe software, not Radiant Player) kept asking me to update itself...

The best solution that I've found is Bearded Spice (http://beardedspice.com/) which works with most web music players.

On Windows I use Outcold Player. Pretty good Software that seems just limited by Googles non-official API.

It seems they are going out of business soon as the Auth API they based their business on is getting deprecated. :/ its moments like these where i hate how the web turned out.

There's also Client For Google Music (Metro app). I am pretty sure it was free when I got it, but it looks like they're charging $8 now.

That it is a Metro app can be a plus or minus. If you want it in a window, you'll have to wait for Win10 or use something like DisplayFusion.


On Linux, check out Nuvola player (https://github.com/tiliado/nuvolaplayer) - it basically wraps the web UI and provides integration with global media keys / shortcuts and the underlying sound menu (in Ubuntu). As a plus, it integrates with other cloud music streaming services too.

There's also Tomahawk (https://www.tomahawk-player.org/) but I found it a bit too buggy, and unable to canonicalize songs across the streaming music providers.

I use Gear Player which works quite well: http://www.gearmusicplayer.com/

Is there a full in depth comparison between all these streaming services? I use Spotify, but I'd like to know if I should switch- the main feature I'm looking for is better recommendations/discovery. Also it'd be nice to see actual # of songs each of these services actually have.

I too would like to see such a comparison but # of songs isn't the important metric for me, it's # of songs I want to listen to. That's why I hate that metric, really just tell me which artists you have (or don't have, though this would never happen) that other services do not...

To me the killer feature combination of Play Music is the unlimited streaming + the music locker.

If something's not available for streaming, or in the store, you can upload it yourself.

They all have almost same (number of) songs.

Being able to upload your own music has been the only reason why I use this. I have a lot of mixes that aren't commercially available so this is basically the only way I can listen to them without having the actual MP3s on whatever device I happen to be using.

The comments here are interesting.

They're from a bunch of people complaining about this or that issue/concern/worry/gripe from Play and a few of its competitors... but it seems like it never occurs to anyone that it's not 1958 anymore. You don't have to be a passive consumer that has to put up with this shit.

I run a Plex server at home, I can stream my music anywhere. I've even had a little luck streaming actual FM radio stations the same way (I haven't found one yet that doesn't do http streaming on their website, and if you extract those links and add them to Plex...).

I will never pay for one of these music streaming services.

You would think in a time when basic necessities are extremely cheap for a significant portion of the world population, people would be more willing to spend money on art. But instead, the vast majority would rather get something for free than pay for it. And the people who pay the $10/month for the convenience of Spotify or Google Play Music or Apple's music product don't care that only pennies of that actually goes to the artists.

All that the shift to all-you-can-eat streaming services has done is make it so that people feel they don't need to buy music (since they're paying for the right to stream any time, there's no value in purchasing a copy) and shift where the money goes away from artists.

I'm going to stick with supporting musicians directly, and do what I can to let people know that it's not that hard to do the same, and that artists appreciate even a little bit of support a LOT.

By this same thought process, you shouldn't purchase music via iTunes because Apple takes their chunk first, then the music label gets their share. The artist is again left with "only pennies". Perhaps you are more upset with music labels and their part in the process rather than companies like Spotify and Google Play Music who are simply trying to meet the demands of the modern consumer.

I don't purchase music from iTunes. I give money directly to artists in any way I can. Whether it's merch, handing money over for a CD directly, buying them a drink, whatever.

Here's something to try. Think about some songs or some album you go back to over and over. Think about the way the music makes you feel, if it lifts your mood, lets you concentrate, or in any way improves your day. How grateful are you for that great 4 minute track? Or for the 50 minute album you played at twice per week last summer?

Did each listen of that song bring you 5 cents worth of joy? Or maybe even just 2 cents? If you have a last.fm account, you can look at your plays and total it up. I have well over 5000 plays for my most listened-to artist. The next time I see them, I can give them $100 in return for nothing, and just say "thank you" for making great music and encourage them to make more.

It's not about these companies being evil, or the business model being wrong. It's that very rarely does anyone consider the people behind the works that they listen to every day, even if that music has some personal importance or sentimentality. The reality is that those people who put out your favorite album are probably working part time jobs just to keep producing music, even if they have enough notoriety to be invited to international music festivals, or are even lucky enough to have a song licensed for a tv show or commercial.

Musicians will continue to make music out of passion, even if they have no hope or even aspiration of commercial success. Any bit of encouragement and support you can give will give them extra motivation to keep producing music, which is a benefit to you, as a fan of what they do, and also a benefit to other fans.

I'm probably just rambling to a wall here, but if you're someone who has their day slightly improved by music, take some time to consider if you want to be one of the few who supports the people who make your life better. Because they certainly aren't being supported by the services that you're using to listen to them.

You don't need to be on a record label to sell music on iTunes. You can use a service lke CDBaby and get most of the revenue after Apple takes their 30%.

Artists don't make a whole lot when you "buy" music either, be it on CD or digitally. From what I understand the only time they make significant revenue is when they go on tour, or sell non-music merchandise (e.g. t-shirts). Since then the label takes a much lower cut.

Somewhat ironically unaffiliated or indie musicians make a higher percentage of music sales than some big names. However, because the total "pot" is small they still can struggle to get by.

I guess my point is: The entire topic is muddy, and not as black & white as you're implying.

The problem with streaming services like Spoitify, Google Play Music, or Apple Music is it's basically the modern version of top 40s (maybe now it's top 40,000's..).

When I listen to the radio, I want to discover new music. Last.FM was amazing for this but there was a mass exodus shortly after CBS acquired it and the site has lain dormant and the search engine seems to have gotten worse.

http://bandcamp.com/ is pretty reasonable for music sales, 15% fee.


I've found Pandora to be a better discovery service than radio ever was.

Free-form radio is still a great way to discover music, usually college radio in a major city with have real DJs/music curators who share newly discovered or rare music.

[1] http://wfmu.org/ NYC

[2] www.kexp.org/ Seattle

[3] http://www.kxlu.com/ Los Angeles

If artists are not getting sufficient pay from streaming services, then artists need to stop selling their music on said services. It's not the consumer's job to guilt trip himself into not buying music from services where the performer is willingly posting his music.

> don't care that only pennies of that actually goes to the artists

This isn't a problem with the streaming services, it's a problem with publisher contracts. Streaming services pay out 70% of their revenue but publishers take the majority of it.

Well, you'll be happy to know that you can still buy albums and songs through Google Play (and all the other stores).

> don't care that only pennies of that actually goes to the artists.

This is due to the artist's contracts with their record labels. Also, what percentage of a CD or iTunes sale do you think goes to the artist?

I wonder what this means for the folks using unofficial clients? I know there are clients for Mopidy and Squeezebox built with https://github.com/simon-weber/gmusicapi.

I've been considering subscribing to a music service lately, but there are so many nowadays that I have honestly no idea how to decide. For those of you with experience in this area, what criteria would you recommend? what should I look for, other than the music itself?

I'm biased because I work for Google and dogfood Play Music, but for me it's a great combination of:

  * A free music locker you can upload your songs to
  * iTunes-like store, with non-DRM'ed files and offline support
  * Spotify-like subscription service, with offline support
  * Pandora-like radio stations, with the addition of "I'm Feeling Lucky" radio that adapts to your listening habits, and offline support :)
  * Songza curated playlists/stations
  * Great web and mobile apps
  * YouTube video integration (I don't really use that though)
  * Pretty decent discovery
What it lacks is Spotify-like social features: profiles, activity, etc.

edit: forgot the store.

> What it lacks is Spotify-like social features: profiles, activity, etc.

Please never add this. I don't want my radio to be a social network. The "profiles and activity" is explicitly why I don't use Spotify.

I agree with you on this. This is the reason I left Spotify. I pay to conveniently access quality music anytime, anywhere.

The social aspect doesn't make much sense with the plethora of streaming music service options available it seems anyway. We have services like Twitter and Facebook and Reddit for social and we have Google Music, Beats, Rdio, Spotify, and others for Music. My experience is that all my friends are each using their own music service, so unless everyone was using the same one it doesn't seem to make sense for the use case of sharing playlists or new music with friends.

Yet I really want that because I constantly have friends asking for new things to listen to, and want to check out what some other people are into. It's one of the few social features I get a lot of value from.

Social features are the primary thing I miss from rdio.com, but they have explicit "friending", otherwise you'd see nothing. I assume Google would use all their data to show you everything everyone is listening too and provide little control.

Google doesn't get social. I can't even share a photo from Google Photos onto Facebook that shows the actual photo; at best they'll share a link with a small thumbnail – at worst it prompts people to login to see it and shows nothing of value on FB. I get it...they're competitors...but the effort required to share an "Google Awesome" photo drives me away from sharing the good stuff they do do.

Can I listen to what I want when I want? I tried looking for particular artists in Play Music and all I get is "X Artist Radio. This will play songs by blah, blah, blah, X Artist, blah". I just want to listen to X Artist. Why is this so hard?

Personally, I look to integration. Does it work on the devices you want to use it on? Does it integrate with some other service you want to use it with?

From my experience, most of the large streaming services out there are roughly equivalent on music selection and sound quality, so all that matters is how I can use it, not what I can play on it.

If you have iOS, then wait 7 more days until Apple Music is coming out. My Spotify premium thing expired after 1 year now, so I have tried out all music services out there this month. My conclusion is that if Apple Music does not provide the integration I am seeking for (since I have an iPhone), I will just go back to Spotify. I am currently on the Google Play Music trial. It is pretty good, but I do not like the "Android" app on my iPhone. If you have an Android, I'd go with Google Play Music.

So your advice is to go with something that isn't out or proven in any way over a proven service because "I do not like the 'Android' app on my iPhone"?

I said to go with Spotify OR Apple music (if it is any good). I also said that Google Play music is fine, but not for me.

> "Android" app on my iPhone

How can you tell it's an "Android" app?

Well, Google here obviously put the same design onto all platforms when it comes to Google Play Music (Web,iPhone , Android). So the app on the iPhone reminds me very much of Lollipop (which I had right before I got my iPhone 6).

What "integration" are you seeking?

Mostly the one with my car. For example, in the car all my Itunes Radio channels show up. So I don't have to use my phone to select those channels. I wouldn't care as much if at least ONE of those millions of music apps would provide a landscape mode.

Whatever happened to Icecast, Shoutcast and just listening to a stream from a radio station?

Now that a portion of the service is going free, I'm interested to see if they start to add offerings to the paid, all access tier. As a paying monthly customer, I'd love to have the option to enable lossless streaming, for example.

Well they did add YouTube Music Key (no ads, background play and offline access for many music videos) pretty recently, but they've done their typical terrible job of publicizing that.

Been an iHeartRadio fan for a few months now. Love the fact that they normal only play an ad when you first load it and thats it (and usually its an AllState ad with Dean Winters who was AWESOME in Oz).

Never really gave Google Play Music a shot since, quite honestly, no one every talks about it. I've tried Pandora and Spotify and they weren't all that great. Well Pandora was only good because if you install AdBlock you never got ads. I'll have to try it out and see if maybe a switch is in my future.

The main reason I won't use Google Music is the lack of playlist folders. There's no way to organize playlists, and the player becomes quite unusable if you have even a few dozen playlists.

I'm surely not the only one who likes making and sharing playlists for different moods and occasions. It would be interesting to know why such a simple yet important feature is missing.

Google doesn't really do folders (see gmail), but playlist tagging would certainly be a feature I'd appreciate.

I personally am finding they are going backward though, I've been a subscriber for a while but they've just removed the radio icon over radio stations so it's hard to see in the recent activity whether it was a radio or actual album.

What I would really like to see is some standards to share your preferences, ratings and playlists among music services. Pandora and most other services locks you down and won't let you get your data. I think Google has great opportunity to be different here.

Is there a reason why no one has tried to add 10 to 30 second spots to these streaming services? Is the temptation to have ad spots after every song too great to resist? Or are ad spots just too hard to measure and often times ineffective?

A 30 second spot after each song is simply too obnoxious - you'd lose users faster than you can say "monetizing advertising" (even in that annoying sped-up commercial voice).

I remember using Spotify many years ago, and back then they played an ad spot every few songs (not every song), so it has been tried at least.

Isn't that also how Pandora (free tier) works?

"free" and "ad-supported" are mutually exclusive if you ask me.

Ha, awesome, hopefully this takes any wind that was there out of Apple's sails(and sales), heh. Once again, Apple puts out a feature 5 years late and is praised...

Is anyone else extremely annoyed by the album art animation? The animation zooms in so far that you can only see half of the album, which defeats the purpose.

"Free, ad-supported radio".

You mean like ... real radio right?

Unfortunately still region locked where I am (Japan).

All the other various streaming services seem to work here - I wonder what the issue is for Google's?

I'm kinda surprised, it's working for me in Canada even though it's only supposed to be for the US.

Also I don't understand what they mean by "ad supported". How will that work? I am not a paid user, and I've been listening for almost an hour and still haven't heard one ad yet.

I'd gladly switch to this service if they didn't count it against my data allotment in Project Fi.

The competition for music is heating up!


Why can't you pay for Google Play Music?

This exists, and is called Google Play Music All Access.

It's smart marketing to have an announcement this week to steal some of Apple's free press.

I've been listening for an hour and haven't heard an ad. Weird.

Personally I prefer Spotify over Google Play Music or Apple Music, I don't know, I really care about startups and I think Google and Apple becoming to a hungry companies which eats other ones idea with their unlimited budget.

LOL You care about startups? Then you should care about their investors....which are the music labels.

These activity based stations/playlists are all available on Songza... Which, by the way, is free and ad-free. Not sure what I'm missing, here.

Google bought Songza last year

Right. The playlists are the same, the activities are the same. Songza still doesn't have ads -- but this does.

Do they have Taylor Swift's stuff?

It doesn't have 1989, but her other stuff is there.

ad supported <> free

I wish people would stop echoing that. It would make it so much more possible to have a meaningful discourse about ad supported business models. We don't call anything else that requires something in return "free"

Well sure we do. We call "free software" free, even though it requires that any distributed changes are accompanied with source. Of course, the free software people are also constantly up in arms that the world doesn't use their specific desired definitions of words. I guess you're in good company.

Don't we? I think most people would describe terrestrial radio, OTA television, etc. as 'free'.

Unless I'm missing something, this pretty much makes it a Pandora clone.

As I see it, it now completely subsumes Pandora's main functionality leaving Pandora without any big distinguishing features (except perhaps an argument over whether its matching technology is better), but its not a Pandora clone, because Google Play Music still lets you manage your own library of music either purchased through Google Play or imported from elsewhere as well as providing free ad-supported and paid ad-free streaming.

Yay , more micro dollars for artists ...

If only Music Artists didn't get ripped off by Recording Labels. Streaming isn't the problem imo, Artists making $21 for every $1000[1] is the problem

Yes, you make "less" on a Streaming service than me paying you $10, but if you decide to both have a label which takes 98% of your profit, AND allow your music to be Streamed (which offers a better UX, but less direct monitization), then you're making poor choices, imo.

Streaming services (music/movies/etc) are becoming standard because the UX is excellent. They may need some tweaking, but it is a painless UX. Imo, they're here to stay, and for good reason.

[1]: as i last saw from another HNer, when these conversations get repeatedly brought up. Unfortunately i don't have the cite.

vs? I don't know what Google Play pays. I guess I assume it's similar to Spotify which at least by one accounting is much more than radio


Anyone working on an ad blocker?

Google announces me too...

What mee too? To Pandora?

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