Not willing to be upstaged by Apple Music, Google is launching a free version of its Google Play Music service. To make money, the free version of the service will be supported by advertisements - forget free trials and the prospect of upsetting artists such as Taylor Swift.
The free version of Google Play Music is starting life in the US and Google is pushing the fact that there are curated radio stations to suit whatever mood you find yourself in. The station features the involvement of some of the Songza team and it is possible to home in on a custom radio station based on genre, mood, decade, activity, or similarity to particular artists.
By opening up Google Play Music to a wider audience - which offering a free tier will certainly do - Google says that it is "giving artists another way to earn revenue". While Google will make money through the ads it sells, the ad-supported version of the service is essentially an advert in itself, encouraging listeners to upgrade to the paid-for version.
As well as ads, there are a few limitations to the free version when compared to paid-for subscriptions. Non-paying listeners are limited to skipping six songs per hour, and there is no rewind option - although it is possible to pause playback. Audio quality of up to 320kps is available but it is not possible to download playlists to listen to offline, or edit the running order.
While US residents can start enjoying Google Play Music on the web free of charge right now, there's no word on when it will be available in other parts of the world. Google says that the free version will be rolling out to Android and iOS users this week.