Recently, Google rolled out All Access to its year old Google Music service. But with so many streaming music services out there, should music lovers even care? Actually, they should. In fact, perhaps they should rejoice!
Having used the service since inception, I am now convinced that the search giant may just have found a way to steal this industry as well. Those are big words, given that the likes of iTunes, Pandora and Spotify would like to compete for your dollars in a fair market battle. But Google Music is great, and All Access just turns it up to 11.
How Much Will This Cost Me?
Pricing. It gets no more basic, or more important to customers, than that one simple word. Google makes its offering competitive in this category, but that is far from the company’s only advantage — but more on that in just a bit.
Google Music All Access hits the ground running at $7.99 per month, though that price is set to increase to $9.99 as of June 30th. The latter price keeps the service more in line with what similar competitors offer, though none offer the same experience that Google Music promises.
Pandora for instance — of which I am a subscriber and lover — will only drain your wallet a scant $3.99 per month. However the service is also a one-trick pony. It does that trick well, but it is still one, none-the-less.
All of Your Music — Anytime, Anywhere
This is the basic service that Google has offered for some time. There is nothing wrong with this and it is, no doubt, enough for many customers. After all, you get free cloud storage of up to 20,000 songs — enough for a rather large music collection. There is no limit on size — my collection weighed in at 80 GB, but was only just over 15,000 songs. No problem. Upload time is another story. Songs trickle up in the background, and it took more than a week.
All of this music is then available for streaming on any computer or Android device (with iOS device support reportedly coming soon). Just simply log into your Google account and you are off and running…errr….listening.
There are no ads, and you can purchase new music from Google Play and it will automatically be added to the library for playback anytime and anywhere.
You can explore your library in multiple ways — choose from artist, song, album or genre. All of this is great, but it is free, so you are probably thinking “show me more!”
I previously alerted you to my love of Pandora — I assumed it would take something major to get me away. Here it is. Pandora, in case you are not familiar, allows you to add an artist, or more than one of a similar genre, to create a custom station. The service then begins broadcasting your own private radio station based on your input.
You can create multiple stations for different types of music and switch between them at any moment, based on whatever you feel the mood for.
Guess what? Google Music built this in as well. The exact same functionality that made Pandora the darling of music lovers can be accessed in Google Music All Access. Choose your artist, create your stations and discover an endless stream of new music. You can click the top right of a station to rename it. You can even choose from a selection of pre-made stations.
So Long Spotify
One of the big draws of Spotify is the ability to stream music you do not own. It is a subscription model that has been used by Rdio and Zune, as well as others. It is a popular option for many customers. Again Google steps on the toes of competitors.
The “Discover” feature in All Access brings this functionality as well. Use it to play any single song, or entire album if you wish, and whenever you want to.
Now you have Pandora and Spotify ability, both built right into the service, as well as being able to stream all of the music you own right from the cloud. Still want more?
I Want More!
I have likely given you more than enough reasons to run, not walk, from other music services, but how about a playlist option that lets you add music to custom lists that could be tailored to an occasion? Yes, that is included here as well.
Like Pandora, you can also give music a thumbs up or thumbs down, depending on your own opinion and taste. The Radio will use this to better customize for you as time passes.
In the End
I speak not of the sacred final song of the Beatles classic Abbey Road release, but only seek to wrap up this tale. If you have not guessed where this conclusion heads then you likely need to back up and do a bit of re-reading.
Yes, I am sold — quite literally in fact, because I have put my money where my mouth currently resides. I am paid up on Pandora for the moment, but it is a contract that will not be renewed. Google Music All Access brings the best of pretty much every musical world you could hope for.
With Google Music All Access, there is little reason to pay for another service. Sure you could combine the free library-streaming feature with Pandora and Spotify to cobble together your own solution, but why?