Google is the latest company to enter the increasingly-crowded market for streaming music services in the UK, with the launch of its Google Play Music All Access.
It joins Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, Xbox Music, Sony’s Music Unlimited, Rara and others jostling for attention among British music fans, although unlike those rivals, Google’s service will have no free option.
All Access launched in the US in May, and then in Australia and New Zealand in July. Its UK debut is part of a wider European rollout: Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain are also getting it on Thursday.
In the UK, the subscription-based service will usually cost £9.99 a month, like most of those rivals, but people signing up before 15 September will pay £7.99 a month.
Google’s service shares many of the features of its competitors: unlimited “on-demand” access to a catalogue of millions of tracks from major and independent labels; apps for smartphones and tablets as well as a website; recommendations for new music from Google’s editorial team; and a personalised radio feature that streams songs similar to specific tracks or artists.
One of All Access’ key features is the way it integrates with Google’s cloud locker service, which enables people to store up to 20,000 songs from their existing digital music collection on its servers and play them alongside tracks from the All Access catalogue.
For now, Google’s service will be a standalone subscription in the UK, although in the US, the company is reportedly in talks with telco Verizon to bundle the service into its mobile tariffs.
That’s a model that already exists in the UK.
Just ahead of All Access’ launch here, mobile operator Vodafone announced that customers signing up to its 4G service when it launches later this month will be able to choose to bundle a Spotify or Sky Sports mobile TV subscription into their tariff.
Google sees streaming music as the latest piece in its growing suite of entertainment services offered through its Google Play hub, as it goes head to head with Apple’s iTunes.
“With today’s launch, Google Play moves one step closer to your ultimate digital entertainment destination, where you can find, enjoy and share your favourite apps, games, books, movies, magazines, TV shows and music on your Android phone or tablet,” says Paul Joyce, product manager for Google Play Music.
Apple has yet to launch an on-demand streaming music service as part of iTunes, although it is preparing for the US debut this autumn of iTunes Radio, which will focus on personalised radio.