Google May Beat Apple To The Music Streaming Game
May 15, 2013

Is Google Radio Just Around The Corner?

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Many have been keeping their eye on negotiations between music industry executives and Apple as rumors continue to circulate about a pending ℠iRadio´ competitor to challenge Pandora and Spotify. Now, several news sources have independently confirmed that rival Google will get the jump on Apple this week as they announce their own streaming service during the I/O developers conference.

Bloomberg, the New York Times, The Verge and the Wall Street Journal have all reported that Google has officially signed contracts with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Group to access the music to which these companies hold the rights. The possibility that Google may have been able to come to terms with Sony might sting a bit for Apple, as earlier rumors claimed they were the last music industry holdout preventing Apple from releasing their streaming music service earlier this year.

According to The Verge, Google will announce Spotify-like subscription services to both YouTube and Google Play for Android.

This service is expected to work much like Spotify, allowing users to pay a monthly subscription to stream songs to their computers and mobile devices on demand. The finer details of this new service are currently sparse and scattered about the different news sources.

According to the New York Times, there will be a tiered subscription system, though they do not know how much these different levels will cost. Their sources have said, however, that there will not be a free tier. By comparison, Spotify offers a three tier plan at $5, $10 and a free option with ads and limited listening.

The Wall Street Journal is also unsure about the cost of this service or if the music will be interrupted by ads. The Journal claims Google plans to release an audio-only version of the service for YouTube. While The Verge says Google will be adding this separate service, the Wall Street Journal´s sources were unsure as to when this service could ultimately launch. Sources who spoke with The Verge seemed bullish about the YouTube subscription service, calling the website a “juggernaut.” The video site sees more than 800 million unique visitors each month and the majority of these users are searching for music videos and songs.

Earlier this week, Sundar Pichai, the new head of Google´s Android claimed this year´s I/O conference would focus more on the developers and less on announcements of new products and services. Not only would such an announcement seemingly go against this message, it also allows Google to beat Apple to market with their music streaming service.

The New York Post reported in March that plans for Apple´s so-called ℠iRadio´ have almost stalled as labels try to force the Cupertino colossus to pay more for the rights to stream their music. Current players in this marker, Spotify and Pandora, are paying the labels 35 cents and 12 cents per 100 tracks, respectively. According to the Post´s March report, Apple is pushing to pay a mere six cents per 100 tracks.

If the numerous reports about Google´s plans are true, the search giant could announce this service today as the I/O conference kicks off in San Francisco.