When Google tells you hey, heads up, weâ€™re launching an ad-supported version of Google Music tomorrow, you immediately come to a single question: What would Taylor think?
Barely 36 hours after Swiftâ€™s Tumblr letter went viral, prompting Apple to do an about-face and promise to pay artists during the three-month free trial of Apple Music, Google is offering a free tier to Google Music that it hopes will bring more users into the service. Elias Roman, a product manager on the service, says Google kept seeing people turned off by having to put in a credit card. â€œWhen you open up the free tier,â€ he says, â€œwe have one agenda, and that is get you as quickly to music as possible.â€
Romanâ€™s big plan is to have you open the app, press play, and just listen. The way he sees it, Google Music isnâ€™t just a library or a search engine; its job is to provide music to make the things we do every day, better. Waking up, working out, commuting: everything can be better with the right tunes. Music will now use contextual informationâ€”day of the week, time of day, and device, for startersâ€”to figure out what youâ€™re doing and what you might want to listen to. Then, youâ€™ll get a playlist full of songs perfectly tuned not just for you, but for right now. When itâ€™s 2PM and youâ€™re at your laptop, open up Music and you should see something like the â€œMusic with a beat to work toâ€ playlist. Once youâ€™re home and the lights are off, the sexy-time playlist might start playing instead.
This kind of contextual knowledge is working its way across Google, from Google Now to YouTube and beyond. For the Music team, itâ€™s designed to help people who donâ€™t know what to listen to, or who keep listening to the same 12Â songs every day because discovering good new music is too much effort. â€œThey have no idea how to DJ for themselves,â€ Roman says, so Google is doing that for them. Itâ€™s trying to solve what Roman calls â€œStale iPod Syndrome.â€
Googleâ€™s not copying Spotify, giving you unfettered access to every song on demand for the low, low price of free. Its on-demand approach is more like Pandora: You pick a song, artist, or album, and Google Music plays things based on your search. Your â€œIf Youâ€™re Reading This, Itâ€™s Too Lateâ€ search might get you different Drake tracks, or songs from similar artists. Like Pandoraâ€”and regular olâ€™ FM radioâ€”Google pays every time you play a song, at industry standard rates. â€œWhat we donâ€™t think we should be offering for free is to have the key to Tower Records,â€ Roman says.
â€œI think what artists like Taylor Swift are concerned about is giving an interactive experience for free, just supported by ads,â€ he continues. â€œThatâ€™s the experience thatâ€™s most similar to, and cannibalizing, ownership and therefore sales, and thatâ€™s the experience that artists are concerned about offering in a free, ad-supported environment.â€ He compares Google Music to the radio, and comes back to the many ways Google Music upsells free listeners, trying to get them to drop 10Â bucks a month. You get an ad-free experience, for one thingâ€”though Google Musicâ€™s ads, which Roman says are just pre-roll videos when you first start a playlist, donâ€™t actually sound that awful. You also get offline support, and on-demand access to the entire libraryâ€”intelligently picking places to remind users of those benefits is key to Google Musicâ€™s plans.
This is the perfect microcosm of Appleâ€™s and Googleâ€™s value differences. In Appleâ€™s world, thereâ€™s a single radio station the whole world will listen to; in Googleâ€™s, everyone wants different things, and with perfect data itÂ can deliver it to you automatically. In both cases, though, they want everyone listening to music, and theyâ€™re going to pay artists for it.
That sounds like something Taylor Swift, arbiter of the music industry, would be okay with.
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Article source: http://www.wired.com/2015/06/google-music-free/