Google Beats Apple in Launch of Subscription Streaming Service

No free ad-supported tier available

Google closed deals with the three major record labels earlier this week and beat out competitor Apple by unveiling its subscription music streaming service, Google Play Music: All Access, at its I/O developers conference.

Chris Yerga, Google's engineering director for Android, described it as "radio without rules." It might be unrestricted, but it isn't free. All Access subscribers pay $9.99 per month, with a 30-day free trial. Subscribers who sign up before June 30 get a discounted rate of $7.99 per month.

The service works like Spotify, allowing users to stream tracks via computer or Android device. Users have access to a vast library of tracks—"millions of songs," said Yerga, thanks to partnerships with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. All Access also offers a Pandora-like radio option, an endless stream of related tracks that might guide users to discover new music.

Google chose not to include a free, ad-supported option, which is good news for Spotify and not-so-good news for potential advertisers.

"Anytime a mainstream company decides to invest in digital music, that is good for the entire industry," Scott Ambrose Reilly, the North American chief executive of Stockholm-based X5 Music Group, told Billboard. "But seeing a mainstream advertising company like Google launch a paid-only service does raise some eyebrows. Hope springs eternal and let’s all hope this product lives up to the Google reputation for worldwide mass market appeal. If not at launch then hopefully in the very near future."

Google also announced an improved, updated Google Maps and changes to its search functions at the conference.