The Record
4:32 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Google Launches A Streaming Music Service

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 5:19 pm

The competition for your ears — and dollars — just got a little tougher. On Wednesday, Google launched a paid music subscription service that will put it in direct competition with other streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. The announcement may just be the beginning for Google.

As it gets easier to access the Internet, more fans are streaming their music — not downloading it. A recent survey by the NPD Group found that for users between the ages of 13 and 35 streaming music services are more popular than FM radio. Google wants to make sure it rides that wave.

At its developers conference on Wednesday in San Francisco, the company's Chris Yerga introduced what it's calling All Access. While listening to !!!'s "One Girl One Boy" via the service, Yerga showed how it was possible to create a station curated by Google's algorithms but controllable by the user.

"So if there's something there we don't want to hear," he says, "Swipe it away! Swipe it away!"

All Access users can listen to millions of songs and albums as part of the streaming radio service, or they can listen to a song or album on demand, as many times as they like.

Google, the biggest company to enter the streaming music market, has reached licensing agreements with the three major labels. Pandora, the Internet radio service, has 200 million users. Spotify, which also lets users pick exactly what they want to hear, has 6 million paying subscribers and about 24 million users. But Paul Sloan, the executive editor of CNET, who follows the industry, isn't sure how well Google will compete.

"It might just sort of be one of those services that never gets traction," Sloan says. "Right now Google's various music services and other various things they've done like this have not worked well." Sloan points to Google's Play store, where fans can download books, films and music. He says it doesn't come close to Amazon or iTunes.

But Google-owned YouTube is another matter. It's by far the most popular way for young people to listen to music. Sloan says Google is working on another streaming service that will be part of YouTube.

"The industry is hoping for YouTube because that has the brand recognition," he says. "That has the brand recognition, and people already use it as their digital jukebox in the sky."

The service Google launched today will cost $10 a month. That's the same price as Spotify. But both Spotify and Pandora have free versions of their services. To get Google's All Access you have to pay up.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The competition for your ears, and your dollars, just got a little tougher. Today, Google launched a paid music subscription service. It's now in direct competition with other streaming services, like Spotify and Pandora. And as NPR's Laura Sydell reports, today's announcement may be just the beginning for Google and streaming.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: As it gets easier to access the Internet, more fans are streaming their music, not downloading it. A recent survey by the NPD Group found that for users between the ages of 13 and 35, streaming music services are more popular than FM Radio. Google wants to make sure it rides that wave.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOOGLE DEVELOPERS' CONFERENCE)

CHRIS YERGA: So you guys want to hear about music?

(APPLAUSE)

SYDELL: Today, at its developers' conference in San Francisco, the company's Chris Yerga introduced what it's calling All Access. While listening to "One Girl One Boy" off the service, Yerga showed how it was possible to create a station curated by Google's algorithms. And you can see the playlist.

YERGA: So if there's something there we don't want to hear...

(APPLAUSE)

YERGA: ...swipe it away.

(APPLAUSE)

YERGA: Swipe it away.

(APPLAUSE)

SYDELL: All Access grants access to millions of songs and albums. And users can listen to them as part of the streaming radio service; or listen to a song or album as many times as they like.

Google reached licensing agreements with the three major labels. It's the biggest company to enter the streaming music market. Pandora, the Internet radio service, has 200 million subscribers. Spotify, which also lets users pick exactly what they want to hear, has 26 million subscribers. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Those who use Pandora and Spotify were mischaracterized. Pandora has 200 million users, not subscribers. Spotify has 6 million paying subscribers and about about 24 million users.]

But Paul Sloan, the executive editor of CNET, who follows the industry, isn't sure how well Google will compete.

PAUL SLOAN: It might just sort of be one of these services that never gets much traction. Right now, Google's various music services - and other things they've done like this - have not worked well.

SYDELL: Sloan points to Google's Play store, where fans can download books, films and music. He says it doesn't come close to Amazon or iTunes. But Google-owned YouTube is another matter. It's by far the most popular way for young people to listen to music. Sloan says Google is working on another service that will be part of YouTube.

SLOAN: The industry is hoping for YouTube because that has the brand recognition. and people already use it as their - you know, digital jukebox in the sky.

SYDELL: The service Google launched today will cost 10 bucks a month. That's the same price as Spotify. But both Spotify and Pandora have free versions of their services. Google's All Access can only be accessed by paying up.

Laura Sydell, NPR News, San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.