Google Inc. jumped into the increasingly crowded music subscription business yesterday, announcing an on-demand service that's "uniquely Google."
Dubbed All Access, the service debuts Wednesday in the U.S. at $9.99 a month, with a 30-day free trial. Subscribers who sign up before June 30 will get a special rate of $7.99 a month.
The announcement, made at Google's I/O conference for developers, came soon after the Silicon Valley technology giant cleared licensing deals with Warner Music Group in March, and in recent days with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment to be able to offer "millions of songs" for the service.
Music executives applauded Google's entry into the market.
"Anytime a mainstream company decides to invest in digital music that is good for the entire industry," said Scott Ambrose Reilly, Chief Executive of X5 Music Group, a boutique label based in New York. "But seeing a mainstream advertising company like Google launch a paid only service does raise some eyebrows. Hope springs eternal and let's all hope this product lives up to the Google reputation for worldwide mass market appeal. If not at launch then hopefully in the very near future."
The labels have been eager to work out deals with Google, not just because new distribution channels would inevitably result in increased licensing revenue, but also because of the scale that Google represents. The company measures its audience in billions of people, whereas music numbers its potential customers in the millions.
All Access features an "Explore" tab that serves up personalized recommendations based on the listener's existing library of music and listening patterns, as well as handpicked songs from Google's music editors.
In addition, each song can with one click be turned into a radio station with "a neverending list of tracks."