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As expected, Google unveiled its new streaming music service at their annual I/O developers conference on Wednesday. It has a very long name and some pretty cool new features. Whether it will actually do anything to upend your listening habits and the market for streaming music services, well, that's up for some immediate debate. 

Google's Chris Yerga introduced Google Play Music All Access to a room full of clap-happy developers Wednesday. The Verge reported that Google has landed deals with Sony and Universal to distribute songs over the new streaming service, which is available in Chrome and on Android devices, right now. Google already had a deal with Warner in place, but going to market without the other two major label libraries would have been insane.

So how does this thing compare to Spotify, the reigning best streaming music app on the market? Let's take a look at the tale of the tape:

Number of songs: 

  • Google: "millions," according to Yerga. Google has licensing contracts with the major labels, so, yeah, a lot of songs. 
  • Spotify: over 20 million. If Google could beat this number, they would have said so.

Advantage: Spotify. 


  • Google: There's a promotion! Until June 30, any user who signs up for a 30-day free trial gets a $7.99 per month per month rate. Anyone who signs up past that deadline will be charged the usual $9.99 per month. 
  • Spotify: $9.99 per month.

Advantage: slight edge to Google. 

Is there a free limited version for the cheapskates? 

Google: Aside from the 30 day promo, no.

Spotify: Yes, you can listen to the whole library free in the U.S. With commercials, but still. They don't need your money.

Advantage: Spotify.

Is it available outside of the U.S.? 

  • Google: Yerga said it would be available "elsewhere" in the future. But for now it's 100 percent domestic. 
  • Spotify: In a small collection of countries, yes, it is. 

Advantage: Spotify. 

Is there an easy playlist option?

  • Google: Google Play Music All Access has a Listen Now feature that recommends a playlist of songs similar to the one you're listening to. You know, kind of like what iTunes and Pandora already did, except it combines songs from Google's streaming library and your collection of music, too. Once the playlist begins, you can swipe to restructure the playlist to your preference or eliminate songs you're certain you won't like. It's more genius than Genius.
  • Spotify: Spotify has a Spotify Radio feature that recommends a playlist of songs similar to the one you're listening to, choosing a playlist of songs from its own expansive library based on the artist. You can skip any song you don't like. It's still pretty genius.

Advantage: Google, but only by a hair because you can preemptively get rid of the stuff you don't want to listen to. 

Total: Spotify by a three-to-two margin. And Google's victories were only by a hair. 

So will people switch over to this long-named thing from the streaming services they've come to know and love? Probably not. It may depend, in the short term, on how well the Listen Now feature is received by the existing Android crowd. If word spreads enough maybe Google can convince some Spotify users, or even Rdio and Pandora holdouts, to jump ship. Spotify already has 24 million active users and 6 million paying users across the globe, but if streaming is the future of the music business, at least Google is playing along.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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