If you're still looking to add a streaming music service to your collection of services (which, admittedly, could be pretty massive by now), Google wants to throw their hat in the ring. Today, Google launched Google Play Music All Access, which is their new subscription music service that puts millions of tracks at your fingertips, and cozies them up to all of your existing music to produce recommendations. Google says that All Access is all about music discovery.
They're not lying - it's very heavy on the discovery. But more on that later.
It's now live, available at music.google.com. The first thing you'll be prompted to do upon arrival is sign up for the free trial. Google is offering a 30-day free trial, after that the service will be $9.99 a month (the same as Spotify's premium service). But if you sign up for a free trial before June 30th, Google will knock two bucks off that price. Not bad. When you sign up for the trial (via Google Wallet, but you won't be charged anything right now), you then be prompted to upload your music to Google Play using Music Manager. Google tells you that All Access is "even better when you combine your collection with ours."
The first thing you'll see is the "Listen Now" section. Google wasn't kidding when they said at the I/O conference that it would be a true mix of your own music and all of the other music available via All Access. At first, it looks a bit confusing, but you quickly realize that it's simply made up of a bunch of tiles - each tile representing something different. One tile may suggest an album or track or even a playlist because you recently played it. Right next to that tile, another may suggest a new release based on what you've been listening to. Another tile will suggest that you start a radio station based on a song you've played.
Google says that the Listen Now section will improve the more you listen, as it will learn to surface better stuff based on your tastes.
The "Explore" section is another tool for discovering music, albeit it slightly less-focused on your own personal library and interest. Sure, there's a "recommendation" section, but it's not as intensive as the "listen now" section. Two other tabs that help you discover new music inside Explore are "featured" and "new releases."
The featured section shows you featured playlists, top albums, and top songs from across the Google Play network.
And the new releases section is pretty self-explanatory. The Explore tab is also where you can browse music by genre. Google currently suggests 22 different genres, which when clicked on open up options for sub-genres. For instance, if I click on Alternative/Indie, I can then click on '80s Alternative, Emo/Hardcore, or Neo-Folk. Within each genre you're given featured playlists, top albums, key albums (the classics in that genre for instance Radiohead's Kid A), and top new albums.
From anywhere in the service, just click on an album to open up it's album page. From there, you can begin playing tracks, and get information on it.
Also, you can always just play any song that you see by clicking the play button. If it's on an album, it'll just start playing the first track on the album.
As you can see above, there are buttons to "add to my library," which puts the album alongside all of your owned music in your library, and "play radio."
Radio is one of the features that Google seemed really excited by at the I/O conference. With Google Music Radio, all you have to do is base it off of one song, and Google will generate a never-ending playlist of related tracks - not exactly a breakthrough technology within the streaming music service world. But one cool thing about the playlists are that they fully customizable, as you can click and drag to reorder them however you please. Plus, you can play any track in the station whenever you want.
Clicking on the "Radio" tab on the left-hand side accesses all of your created radio stations, plus gives you some suggested stations.
Artist pages looks nice, an feature bios, top songs, albums, and related artists:
Very early, probably misguided and subject to change thoughts:
Look, there are other streaming music services that offer millions of songs ready to play at the click of a button. Google Music All Access looks to be at least a competent service by this criteria, if not better than that. Time will tell as you search through artists to see what's available and what isn't. Google has major labels as partners in the venture, so I think we'll be good in that department.
The "Listen Now" section is probably the most notable feature of the service so far. The way that Google interweaves your personal music library with all of the other music available through All Access is nice, and could lead to some good discoveries. Mainly, Google says that it will help remove the paralyzing "what the hell to listen to now" problem.
One of the major strikes that it has is the lack of a free, ad-supported option. You're either all-in or all-out with that $9.99 per month fee. And even the free trial requires a credit card signup. I feel that many users will be wary of that.
But it's worth a try, and with the free trial why not? Plus, if you sign up before June 30th, you can get All Access for $7.99 a month. Give it a try now.