All About Google Play Music

Subscription Service or Locker

Google Play Music
Google Play Music "Listen Now". Screen Capture

Google Play Music is a Google service previously known as Google Music and initially launched as a beta service. The original Google Music was strictly an online music locker and player. You could use Google Music to store music you had purchased from other sources and play the music from the Google Music player either on the Web or on Android devices.

Google Play Music evolved to become a music store as well as locker service, similar to the Amazon Cloud Player. Google added a subscription service (Play All Access) to the previously existing features. For a monthly fee, you may listen to as many songs as you wish from the entire Google Play Music licensed store collection without having to purchase the songs. If you stop subscribing to the service, anything you didn't purchase separately will no longer play on your device.

The subscription model is similar to Spotify or Sony's Music Unlimited service. Google also has a Pandora-like discovery feature that allows users to stream similar songs based on a single song or artist. Google calls this feature a "radio with unlimited skips, " referencing Pandora's approach. Google also includes a beefed-up recommendation engine in the All Access service, which bases recommendations on your existing library and your listening habits.

Google Play Music Versus Competitors

How does this compare to other services?

Spotify has a free, ad-sponsored version of their service. They also sell a subscription service for unlimited listening on desktops and mobile devices. 

Amazon offers a subscription/locker combination very similar to Google. 

Pandora's service is considerably cheaper. Users may enjoy the ad-sponsored version of the service for free on any device, but this service also limits the length of listening time and number of songs that can be "thumbs downed." The premium version of the service, Pandora One, allows higher quality audio, no ads, unlimited skips and thumbs-downs, and listening through mobile and desktop players for $35 per year. Pandora does not sell music directly or allow you to create your own playlists using specific songs. Rather it finds similar music and creates a custom radio station on the fly, which is then personalized with thumbs feedback. While Pandora may seem the most limited in features, the company has worked very hard to provide support on multiple platforms, streaming TV services, cars, iPod Touch players,  and other common ways users would typically listen to music.