Google launches music streaming service

With the launch of its $9.99 per month music streaming service, Google has entered a space already occupied by the likes of Pandora, Spotify, and possibly, Apple. The company launched a music streaming service yesterday, making an entry in the growing industry with a new service linked to Google Play for Android.

The All Access service comes with a 30-day free trial. The service would expand to additional countries soon. Customers who sign up by 30 June would get it $7.99 a month.

The move sees Google emerge a direct competitor to music streaming companies like Pandora and Spotify, as also possibly with Apple, which had been inching in that direction. It was only last week, for instance, word came that Apple had reached an iRadio deal with Universal Music, though it still needed deals with the other major labels.

According to industry watchers if Google launched an additional YouTube streaming service,it could take advantage of the video-sharing network's position as a dominant, legal source of music.

Rumours about Google's new All Access subscription streaming service, unveiled at Google I/O developers' conference in San Francisco, had been doing the rounds for some time.

Earlier, Google Play users could stream music they bought from the app, but with the new service play; people stream songs they had not purchased as well. Users could now blend their songs with a catalog with thousands of other tracks available in All Access.

News of the announcement first featured on The Verge, a technology-oriented web site, which had reported that the internet giant had been developing entertainment features for Android mobile devices, which put the company squarely in competition with digital music leaders like Apple, whose iTunes store is the largest retailer of music - digital or physical - in the US.

With its expansion into streaming, Google would tap into the most rapid growth area in digital music. Spotify, founded in Sweden in 2008, came to the US about two years ago, and now counts 24 million regular users, 6 million of whom pay about $5 to $10 access premium service. Pandora now had more over 200 million users, the vast majority of whom used it free.

Apple was also said to be developing a Pandora-like internet radio service, although its negotiations with record labels and publishers had been slow.