Google’s expected Spotify competitor: What it could mean for online music


(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Google’s rumored to be launching a new music service to compete with online music provider Spotify at its developers conference this week, according to a report from The Verge — an announcement that could drop as soon as Wednesday.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

Much like the online video space, the online music world has become increasingly fractured, and Google’s rumored service further complicates that picture.

The company already sells music through the Google Play store and, like Amazon, allows users to store several tracks into a cloud locker for free. The enhanced service, as described in reports, sounds very similar to Spotify, which allows users to look for specific songs they want to hear and call them up on demand.

That’s different from the model Apple’s is rumored to be pursuing for its own rumored online radio service. It is said to be similar to Pandora, which lets users pick a song or genre of music and serves up a random but related playlist of its own.

In addition to the number of competitors to choose from, there’s also the question of matching services and devices. The services still have different music portfolios, so you can find an artist, for example, in iTunes but not on Spotify.

According to the Verge, Google has signed licensing deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment to play tracks on YouTube and on Google Play. Combined with earlier reports from Fortune that Google had signed a contract with Warner Music Group, this would give Google agreements with the top three record labels in the industry.

The move also could help Google make more revenue off its streaming products — particularly if, as The New York Times reported, Google bucks the trend of offering a free, ad-supported version of its service and offers users the option of a monthly subscription of around $10 per month.

Google’s been expanding its multimedia efforts, most recently with the launch of paid subscriptions for some YouTube channels. Apple has had great success with its iTunes store — Asymco analyst Horace Deidu recently estimated iTunes’s size has quintupled in the past seven years. With Google’s Android operating system dominating the world smartphone market, the company is smart to continue building out its content ecosystem to get cash from Android phone owners looking to make Google Play their one-stop entertainment hub.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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