Music Business

Google Play Versus Apple Music: Who Will Win?

Apple-vs-googleEager to beat Apple Music's June 30th launch to the punch, Google recently announced its newly-launched free music streaming service. Beginning this Tuesday, the search engine giant is introducing a free version of Google Play Music that allows users to listen to custom-made radio stations based on time of day, mood, artist or other factors. 


Guest Post by Michelle Lou and Katarina Underwood on

For the last two years, Google Play cost $9.99/month and this is the first time that Google is offering a free streaming service.

By creating free online radio stations, the tech giant is hoping to better compete against Spotify and Pandora, which have gained huge followings with their free music streaming services, and convert some free Google listeners into paying customers. Google Play will be using Songza's services (a company Google acquired last year) to create curated playlists designed to accompany every moment of your day. Instead of creating playlists through algorithms, they will be assembled by the staff at Songza. For Google, playlists is an easier approach to free music than the ad-sponsored music streaming that Spotify offers. By going the "music radio" route, Google hopes to avoid the harsh criticism that Spotify received for underpaying artists.

Apple-music-versusBut how does this compare against Apple? Apple Music is also offering a $10-a-month streaming subscription plan that includes a free Internet radio station. It has a media platform that will let artists upload songs, videos, and other content, and it has a song catalog of more than 30 million tracks. So in this regard, Apple Music has the upper hand. However, Google Play trumps Apple Music in another area: Apple Music won’t have an ad-supported free tier. Instead, it will have its own radio components that will also be available to users that aren’t inclined to pay. While Apple Music is providing a free three-month trial period so you can access its massive song library (during which artists will still be paid – thanks, Taylor!), when that ends, you'll have to pay up.

So what does this mean for independent artists? Well, Google Play's introduction of this free streaming service makes it a huge player in the music streaming world. Google Play Music has already more than doubled its user base in the past year, and if its users continue growing like this, perhaps it's time to consider putting your music on Google Play too. Keep in mind, however, that while free ad-based services are popular among music listeners, subscription-based services may be better for labels and musicians, as subscription-based revenue tends to be higher than ad-based, so don't write off Apple's lack of free options too quickly.

Apple has also revealed that in the United States, 71.5 percent of its streaming revenue will go to music publishers and labels, beating Spotify's 70 percent and making it the most generous percentage in the streaming industry. Google, in comparison, has been quiet about its revenue-sharing plans. But it's still too soon to tell who will come out triumphant in the streaming wars –Google Play, Apple Music, or Spotify – so we'll just have to wait and see.

Michelle Lou and Katarina Underwood are editorial interns for Sonicbids.

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  1. i am an Apple fan, but recently subscribed to Google Play Music and cannot be more pleased. It’s iOS app works great. The killer feature for me has been that i can upload my entire iTunes library into the Google music locker for free and stream it via web to my ipad, or a PC connected to speakers at my office or my home. updates occur automatically. The Sonza playlists are very well done, especially the genre based lists, and have been great for discovery of new artists and tracks. A lesser but added bonus is that they stream at a higher resolution. Both on browser and app, it is simple to learn and easy to use with minimal hassle.

  2. I have been a Google Play subscriber since near its inception. Since then the added features have really propelled the value of the subsription. I also enjoy the playlists which is a bit surprising because I typically prefer making my own song choices. I am also pleased with the more recent added content about the artists and the albums. I find myself reading the bios ALL THE TIME. That along with the thoughtful similar artists feature immerses me into all sorts of music. The best part though is watching Youtube commercial free. I also frequently use the link to watch the video for a current song although its difficult to utilize while driving. I suppose for safety reasons that might be a good thing but I would love it if there was an option that automatically sent me back to GP when the video concluded. Anyway I am pretty much an average person not being all that tech savvy so certainly there may be some glaring sound quality or functionality issues that are over my head so I am not considering. To be fair I will give Apple a whirl for awhile but at the end of the day its going to take an awful lot to make me switch permanently. I see tremendous value on the Youtube key alone and I am not about to let that go unless I am REALLY WOWED with Apple.

  3. If you’re a hobbyist musician, by all means put your music on Google Play. You’ll get even lower pay than Spotify, in fact no pay at all ( google is all about modern slavery anyway). But hey, your friends and family will be able to stream your music.

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