Google Launches Free, Ad-Supported Version Of Play Music

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Fresh on the heels of the Apple Music launch, Google has just announced that Play Music will now offer a free, ad-supported version of the service to users who don’t want to pay $9.99/month.

Play Music is Google’s music streaming service, meant to compete with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, etc. However, unlike the paid version, the free version launched today won’t let users choose their own songs to play on-demand. Instead users will have the option to choose from pre-curated playlists, similar to Pandora or iTunes Radio.

Listeners using the free, ad-supported version will be able to choose from themed stations like “Driving” or “Working Out,” or search by genre, artist, or song to create a station of similar music. These playlists will be crafted by Songza, the music curation service that Google acquired back in July of 2014.

Thus far, Google Play Music has only been a paid service in the United States, requiring users to shell out $10/month to listen in. With today’s launch of the free, ad-supported version of Play Music, Google is poised to be more competitive against services like Spotify and Apple Music.

If users choose to upgrade to the paid version, they’ll have unlimited access to the music library, offline listening, and background features for music videos on YouTube. Plus, no ads.

Additionally, users on both the free and paid tiers will now have access to remotely store and play up to 50,000 songs in their own collection for free.

The competitive landscape for streaming music is getting incredibly tense.

Spotify recently launched a new version of the service that works very similarly to the old Songza, where users are prompted to listen to certain playlists based on what Spotify believes they may be doing at the time, such as studying or commuting to work in the morning. Meanwhile, Apple tapped Drake to help launch Apple Music, which is dealing with its own obstacles right now.

That said, our appetite for streaming music is only growing, and with multiple players throwing their hat in the ring, the real winner will be the consumer.

The free version of Google Play Music is rolling out on the web today, with launches for iOS and Android coming next week.