In a digital world, where listening to a full-length album before it drops and streaming sites are becoming the new trend, it was only a matter of time before Google decided to offer up their own services. Taking on the same services as Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, and Apple streaming, Google looks to make music part of its empire. The search engine conglomerate has already captured the attention of the masses with their number one site and now the music industry is their latest target for conquering and sharing.
Announced this past month, Google Play will now offer totally free music streaming to its constituents. The feature comes with all Android operating systems and Google-powered devices. The news comes fresh off the information that HBO Now will be joining the conglomerate as well. Music streaming has now found a new plug to call its digital home.
Users that sign-up for the new feature of the internet mogul will be given the opportunity to listen to a full, pre-orchestrated playlist through the app. If the users like what they hear, then for just a fee of 9.99 dollars, they can subscribe and listen to the wide array of music in Google’s repertoire. Although not necessarily completely free, the option does create more access to music that was otherwise removed from other streaming sites, such as Spotify. Considering that artists like Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, Bjork, and others have pulled their music from other streaming sites, this new feature puts the internet search engine innovators ahead of the curve of its competitors.
One thing that separates Google’s latest feature is the philosophy of ‘people over algorithms’. Google Play Product manager Elia Roman claims that the company has assembled a team of music experts to hand-pick the music in each playlist. Roman assures consumers that the feature runs on minimal algorithms to what listeners might want to hear and more on what an actual person wants to hear. Much like Pandora, the only time a computer is involved in song selection is when the listener picks a radio station based on a song or artist.
However, the feature is not without its limitation for free users. Those that choose not to pay with have limited access to all the features that are included in the total package. Free users are allotted six skips within an hour, can pause a track but can not fast forward or rewind, and can not see what song is coming up next. Though if users pay the fee, they will be able to orchestrate their own playlist, gain full accessibility, and even listen to their respective playlists offline with no hassle.
The recent trend of artists pulling away from free music streaming has left many companies in a position of desperation to keep their clientele. Apple is one of those companies to offer more than other sites to keep their music catalog so diverse and filled with popular content. The company has gone as far as convincing artists to sign exclusively with them and drop the ability for other sites to stream their music. In return for signing exclusively with Apple, the company has promised artists 71 percent share of their total profits earned. A bold and unheard of move that puts majority of earnings for streaming in the artists’ pockets. Though Google does not offer the same exclusive offer, the company has stated that artists will be rewarded in other forms of earning revenue through their free service. Although Apple has been more aggressive in their pursuit of artists’ cooperation, the digital age of music has not always been favorable to artists.
Since the days of Napster and the controversial lawsuit stemmed from its free file-sharing software, music in the digital age has been a catch-22. On one hand, the accessibility to listen to new music gives consumers with active an internet service the option to hear a full body of work before its release. It also gives consumers the option to pick and choose which singles or tracks they want to purchase. The downside of this option is the chance for consumers to only purchase just singles, decreasing album sales. Also, with the vast amount of file-sharing and uploading sites, it makes it a lot easier for users to just ‘leak’ a full body of work before it hits shelves and digital sites.
By Tyler Cole
Edited By Leigh Haugh
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