Google Play Music – The end of Spotify and the start of ad free YouTube

Google Play Music – The end of Spotify and the start of ad free YouTubeGoogle has recently introduced a free, ad supported version of their Google Play Music product. But could this be part of a larger strategy for the business? And could this signal the end for the likes of Spotify?

With a similar sized song catalogue to Spotify (~30m songs) Google has quietly entered into an already busy ad-supported music streaming marketplace.

Following the acquisition of music streaming service Songza in July 2014, Google’s new(ish) product now features a free ad-supported version with all the features we’ve come to expect from streaming tech. Curated radio stations by mood, activity, decade and genre, plus the discoverability functionality to find stations that play similar music. On top of that, the premium subscription also gets you offline listening and cloud storage for up to 50,000 songs.

But, at a US$9.99/mo. price point in a marketplace of already similar features, it all seems a touch vanilla (Ice) coming from the tech giant.

Interestingly, what hasn’t been promoted in the offering, is the inclusion of YouTube’s Music Key for the Google Play Music premium subscribers. Now, if you haven’t heard about YouTube’s Music Key, don’t feel too hurt. It’s a Google service that was in beta in November 2014 and is positioned as a music subscription service that allows users to play full albums and music videos without ads on YouTube. It does sound like a bit of a weird service to offer, as it’s almost a mix of the same product, right?

Well, kind of…

While at first glance Google initially appears to be going down the ‘traditional streaming service’ route with the launch of their free ad-supported version of Google Play Music. The inclusion of YouTube Music Key (a very similar service to Google Play Music as I mentioned) may suggest that Google is looking to integrate Google Play Music users with their YouTube platform in near future. Don’t believe me? Here’s a few interesting points about YouTube’s relationship with music:

  • Did you know that the most searched topic on YouTube is ‘music’?
  • Did you also know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world?
  • And that the 10 most watched videos of all time are music videos? – Here’s the list

Hmm… I’m sure you can see there may be a bigger opportunity outside of just a feature-generic audio streaming platform.

In fact, Google is strongly positioned to be able to integrate its existing inventory of music and music videos together on one platform. It gets more interesting, if you consider Google’s ability to potentially be able offer an alternative pricing model so users can have both ad free music, and ad free video? That’s right, YouTube has already started to seriously look at a subscription model where YouTube users could pay a fixed monthly fee which removes all advertising.

In a world that is becoming increasingly mobile, pre-roll ads have become increasingly annoying (source: me) and suddenly just $10 a month for ad free audio streaming, cloud music storage, and ad free YouTube looks quite appealing.

This isn’t guesswork. This is actually already happening.

In April 2015, Google announced that it plans to launch its YouTube subscription service in the same year.

For online marketers this is exciting news. To get started running ads on Google Play Music you only need access to AdWords or DoubleClick Bid Manager. The entire Google Play Ads inventory is available through the Google Display Network (GDN) which means that marketers will have access to keyword, affinity, audience and remarketing options via video and banner creative. The increased mobile integration may also open additional avenues to attribution and more localised messaging down the road.

Despite a few early bugs with Google Play Music, if you remember that the Android OS reached 78% market share in Q1 2015 it seems that Google sure is well positioned to create a few headaches for existing streaming services by incorporating the service as a native app.

Which begs the question, should Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, apple, Beats, Rhapsody and the rest be worried as Google quietly circles the music streaming market?

In my opinion. Yes, yes they certainly should.

If this article got you really excited, and you would like to learn more about how FirstClick is planning to use Google Play Music advertising to help our partners drive more business, drop me a line at, I’d love to hear from you.


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