Today Google Play announced it will launch a free, ad-supported Internet radio service aimed at attracting new users skeptical about paying for streaming music. The curated radio stations will be built song-by-song through a combination of algorithm, user data, and music pros hand picking tracks they think users will love.
While free streaming and playlists are nothing new (Pandora and Spotify offer this as well), what’s crucial to note is the added experience of human curation.
Enter Songza, the music streaming and recommendation site acquired by Google in 2014 for an alleged $15 million. Songza uses data to predict what you want to listen to based on the time of day, the weather, location, and activity. They also have a team of music experts comprised of journalists, critics, DJs, ethnomusicologists, and musicians to ensure those playlists make sense for each user.
It would be great to think that Google’s only intention is that each and every listener be completely satisfied with their free playlists forever, but really Google’s logic lies in the idea that the longer a listener stays on their site, the more likely they are to buy a subscription. In theory, if users love every song they hear on Google Play’s curated playlists, the likelihood that they will continue to listen and eventually buy becomes higher.
Of course, this announcement comes shortly before Apple plans to unveil their live music streaming service Beats 1 Radio on June 30, which will include curation from prominent radio DJs like Zane Lowe, formerly of BBC Radio 1.