Google's new free music service is classic Google: Take someone's idea and slap ads on it

Web giant hopes to upset the Apple cart

A week before Apple launches its streaming music service, Google has sneaked out a free-to-use rival.

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Google's new advert-crammed streaming service won’t cost you a penny to tune into. Be aware, though, that you won’t be able to pick artists directly; instead, you have to stream from playlists (or "stations") with titles like "Epic & Debauched Party Mixes," "Clearing Your Inbox: Pumped-Up Hits," and so on.

(Google has a paid-for online jukebox called Play Music that you can still subscribe to.)

"Our team of music experts, including the folks who created Songza, crafts each station song by song so you don’t have to," gushed Elias Roman, product manager for the service, in a blog post today.

"If you’re looking for something specific, you can browse our curated stations by genre, mood, decade or activity, or you can search for your favorite artist, album or song to instantly create a station of similar music."

There's a decent range of artists on the radio stations, including a "Taylor Swift Radio" option as a hat-tip to Apple's bête noir. There's also a lot of rubbish on there – does anyone other than Axe-doused teenagers really listen to Tiesto's musical onanism? However, all the artists featured will at least get paid.

"For this new ad-supported tier, we're paying based on the US statutory rate under Section 114 of the United States Copyright Act," a Google spokesman told El Reg.

"For our store and subscription we don't disclose those rates but the rights holders earn the majority share. For our free-to-use digital locker for up to 50,000 of your songs, we still pay a royalty to the rights holders."

In practice that comes down to copyright holders getting $2.30 per thousand listens, rising to $2.50 by the end of the year. Not much, but better than the zero dollars Apple was going to pay musicians for the first three months of its streaming service, until it was shamed into scrapping that deal. ®

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