Google, which on Wednesday unveiled its All Access music streaming service as part of its I/O conference for developers, continues to expand its music offerings, in spite of heavy competition.
The service, initially available only in the U.S., offers on-demand music streaming, personalized radio and is combined with Google's existing cloud locker service for $9.99 a month after a 30-day free trial. Those who sign up before June 30 will get a discounted rate of $7.99 a month.
But what's in it for Google?
Jamie Rosenberg, Google's Vice President of Digital Content, spoke with Billboard.biz shortly after the company's announcement to talk about why music is important to the technology giant, how it fits into Google's strategy and whether Apple users can look forward to seeing a version of All Access on iOS.
Billboard: Why is All Access important for Google?
Rosenberg: In general, at Google we look for ways to bring the things we’re good at with technology to solve problems for consumers. The other thing is that we do is we look at how consumers are engaging with our platforms, whether it’s the Web or mobile -- the things they’re spending time on and how they’re moving across those platforms. If we can identify opportunities and solve problems within those experiences, then is there an interesting business to be built. For us, music checks all those boxes. With music, the types of things we’re good at are all useful to music -- like knowing how to build a cloud structure, or taking large data sets and distilling that into relevant recommendations. We’ve long viewed music as important for our platforms and one where we can also bring our expertise to bear.
What’s the role of advertising? Will there be a free ad-supported tier?
The current proposition is a paid monthly subscription for all of the world’s music in an ad-free context. As we looked at the market, we saw very interesting growth in that segment. And, yet, the segment is very much in its infancy. We were interested in evolving the model in that direction.
Are you planning to offer All Access to more countries beyond the U.S.?
We’re looking forward to rolling it out to more countries soon. Our locker service is in 13 countries, a dozen were added in just the last six months. We look forward to putting All Access on the same rapid expansion path.
What’s the market potential?
It’s hard to say. What we know is that these services are the fastest growing part of the music market, and yet they are still early days. If you add up the total number of users across the world, that number is still small. We’re interested by the growth that this segment has seen. For us, it was very important to offer a full set of choices. We have a solution for consumers who bring their own music via our cloud locker, and be able to add to their collections with our Google Play store. And then for the growing segment of consumers who are interested in access to millions of songs, we now have a solution for them, too. And because they all share the same infrastructure, they’re also able to work seamlessly together.
Will there be an iOS version of All Access?
We don’t have anything to announce. What I can say is that when we say “All Access,” we mean it. We want people to access their music collection from anywhere. What we launched today is a first step. Android and Web are platforms we know intimately and can deliver an amazing out of the box experience. I fully expect we’ll look for ways to bring the service to more consumers in more contexts. How many tracks are available? We don’t have an exact count. We have licenses with all the majors and thousands of indie labels. You’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.
Do you see a correlation between music and mobile?
There absolutely is. Music services tend to really take off when they get to mobile. For us, on Android phones, music is a top five use case. We have also seen an increasing percentage of people engaging with music on phones. Mobile has led to a growth in consumption of music. Mobile is also pushing innovation on the experience. You have a lot of companies looking for ways to innovate on how people discover and enjoy music.