Google has launched a free, ad-supported version of Play Music, the company announced in a blog post Tuesday.
This free version of Google Play Music works a lot like other Internet radio services out there, such as Pandora, allowing users to search for artists, albums or songs and create a radio station with similar music. Users can also listen to radio stations curated by genre, mood, decade or activity chosen by a team of music experts, including the people that created the music curation technology Songza, which Google acquired last year.
The curated radio stations you'll find on Google Play Music have titles such as "Working Out," "Entering Beast Mode" and "Waking Up Happy." This integration with Songza was actually introduced in October, but it was only available to paid subscribers.
This news comes just a week before the June 30 launch date of Apple's highly anticipated new music streaming service Apple Music, which was officially unveiled during its WWDC keynote earlier this month. With providing access to millions of songs on iTunes, a 24/7 global radio station and a social network for artists to connect with fans, Apple's new streaming service will be much more of a rival to Spotify than Google Play Music's new offering, although curation and personalization is also a big part of Apple Music as well. Apple Music will launch with a three-month free trial and then cost $9.99 per month after that.
But even if this free version of Google Play Music may be a bit different from Apple Music, Google's timing for this announcement couldn't have been a coincidence. As the battle for music streaming supremacy continues to be a hot topic, Google is still trying to show that it has a formidable presence.
Google also mentioned in its announcement that this ad-supported version of Google Play Music will give "artists another way to earn revenue," which touches upon the controversy that has long-surrounded online music streaming and downloads but that has been a particularly high-profile debate as of late with the Jay-Z-backed Tidal purporting to be more beneficial for creators and Taylor Swift's feuds with Spotify and now Apple Music.
Of course, the endgame for the launch of this new free version of Google Play Music is to garner more premium subscribers to the music-streaming service. Though users of the free service can access many of the same features as paid subscribers, subscribing to Google Play Music obviously comes with many more bells and whistles, such as the ability to listen to music offline, create playlists, access a library of 30 million songs and free storage of up to 50,000 songs from your own collection.
The free version of Google Play Music also limits users to six skips per hour, and there's no ability to rewind or see what track is coming up next, The Verge reports. But then again, you get what you pay for.
The free version of Google Play Music is available Tuesday in the U.S. for the web only, but Android and iOS versions will be rolling out later this week.