There’s been a lot of noise from the streaming music business of late, and now Google has made a big move in offering a free version of Google Play Music, two years after the debut of its paid subscription service.
The free version will be ad-supported, of course, heating up the competition with the imminent launch of Apple Music and the continued success of Spotify.
The free Google Play Music is launching first in the United States. It is available on the Web starting Tuesday, and on Android and iOS devices later this week.
Google isn’t shy about telling consumers that it wants the free version to spur them into upgrading to the full $9.99 a month service.
“We hope you’ll enjoy it so much that you’ll consider subscribing to Google Play Music to play without ads, take your music offline, create your own playlists, and listen to any of the 30 million songs in our library on any device and as much as you’d like,” Google’s announcement states.
The service uses Songza, an Internet radio app that Google acquired a year ago. Playlists are curated by Songza music experts. However, playlists that are automatically generated according to genres, songs or artists will also be available to listeners.
Google Play Music had about 815,000 paying subscribers in the U.S. in December 2014, according to publishers’ data verified by royalty tracking firm Audiam. That’s far behind market leader Spotify with 4.7 million. Spotify said this month that it currently has 20 million paying subscribers worldwide. The vast majority of Spotify users do not pay for the services. Spotify also offers a free ad-supported service as well as paid subscriptions.
Apple’s new service, Apple Music, is set to launch on June 30, and is poised to attract hundreds of millions of iTunes customers. But it is unknown how many iTunes customers will be will to sign up for the paid subscription model on the same devices on which they already download and listen to music.
Apple Music will offer a $10-a-month streaming subscription plan that includes a free Internet radio station.