Google Play Music
|Opened||November 16, 2011|
|Platforms||Android, iOS, web|
|Format||MP3 @ 320 kbit/s|
|Restrictions||Concurrent playback limited to one device, non-concurrent playback limited to 10 devices (4 for All Access), songs can be downloaded from web twice|
|Catalogue||22 million songs|
|Preview||90 seconds (30 seconds for songs shorter than 2:30)|
|Trial||30-day free trial of All Access|
|Features||Free online storage of 20,000 songs; Chromecast support; custom radio stations and unlimited on-demand streaming (All Access)|
Google Play Music is a music streaming service and online music locker operated by Google. Users with standard accounts can upload and listen to up to 20,000 songs at no cost. An "All Access" subscription, available for US$9.99 per month, entitles users to on-demand streaming of any song in the Google Play Music catalogue and the ability to create custom radio stations. Users can purchase individual tracks through the music store section of Google Play. In addition to offering music streaming for Internet-connected devices, the Google Play Music mobile app allows music to be stored and listened to offline.
The service was announced on May 10, 2011, and after a six-month, invitation-only beta period, it was publicly launched on November 16. Google Play Music offers more than 22 million tracks for purchase or streaming. It is currently available in 58 countries for Android and iOS devices and web browsers that support Adobe Flash.
Google first hinted at releasing a cloud media player during their 2010 I/O developer conference, when Google Senior Vice President of Social Vic Gundotra showed a "Music" section of the Android Market during a presentation. A music service was officially announced at the following year's I/O conference on May 10, 2011, under the name "Music Beta". Initially, it was only available by invitation to United States residents and had limited functionality; the service featured a no-cost online music locker for storage of up to 20,000 songs that could be played via its web player or Android mobile app, but no music store was present during the beta period, as Google was not yet able to reach licensing deals with major record labels.
After a six-month beta period, Google publicly launched the service in the US on November 16, 2011, as "Google Music" with its "These Go to Eleven" announcement event. The event introduced several features to the service, including a music store for the Android Market, music sharing via the Google+ social network, "Artist Hub" pages for musicians to self-publish music, and song purchasing reflected on T-Mobile phone bills. At launch, Google had partnerships with three major labels—Universal Music Group, EMI, and Sony Music Entertainment—along with other smaller labels, although no agreement had been reached with Warner Music Group; in total, 13 million tracks were covered by these deals, 8 million of which were available for purchase on launch date. To promote the launch, several artists released free songs and exclusive albums through the store; The Rolling Stones debuted the live recording Brussels Affair (Live 1973), and Pearl Jam released a live concert recorded in Toronto as 9.11.2011 Toronto, Canada.
According to a February 2012 report from CNET, Google executives were displeased with Google Music's adoption rate and revenues in its first three months. The following month, the company rebranded the Android Market and its digital content services as "Google Play"; the music service was renamed "Google Play Music".
Features and usage
Users can upload (or have matched) up to 20,000 of their songs to the service at no cost. Additionally, according to Google, there are hundreds of free songs in Google Play and millions available for purchase; individual song purchases are priced at either US$1.29, $0.99, $0.69, or free. Users also get personalized recommendations based on what they listen to the most. Music can be played on the Google Play website or via the Google Play Music mobile app on Android and iOS devices. Songs can be stored for offline playback. Google also noted that "from time to time we'll be showcasing exclusive concerts and interviews available in Google Play."
The service allows the user to automatically create a playlist of "songs that go well together" using a feature known as Instant Mix. Music and playlists imported to Google Play Music can not alter playlists in other music program libraries, while changes in other applications are reflected in the Google Play music library. In January 2012, a feature was added to Google Music allowing users to download MP3 copies of any song in their library from the web, with a two-download limit per track. On October 29, 2012, Google announced several new additions to the service: a "song matching" feature would scan a user's music library on their computer and add to their online library any songs present on Google's servers without the need to upload them; the company also reached a partnership with Warner Music Group, the last remaining major music label not to be licensed with Google Play; finally, the music store was announced for release in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK on November 13.
In October 2014, a new "Listen Now" feature was introduced, providing contextual and curated recommendations and playlists. The feature is adapted from technology by Songza, which Google acquired earlier in the year.
At Google I/O on May 15, 2013, Google announced that Google Play Music would be expanded to include a paid on-demand music streaming service called "All Access", allowing users to stream any song in the Google Play catalogue. It debuted immediately in the US for $9.99 per month ($7.99 per month if the user signed up before June 30). The service allows users to combine the All Access catalog with their own library of up to 20,000 songs.
On November 12, 2014, Google subsidiary YouTube announced "Music Key", a new premium service succeeding All Access that will include the current Google Play Music streaming service (with the All Access brand being dropped), along with advertising-free access to streaming music videos on YouTube. Additionally, aspects of the two platforms will be integrated; Google Play Music recommendations and YouTube music videos will be available across both services.
Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.
In 2013, Entertainment Weekly compared a number of music services and gave Google Play Music All Access a "B+" score, writing, "The addition of uploading to augment the huge streaming archive fills in some huge gaps..."
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