Google has announced that its streaming music service, called Google Play Music, is now free to use, meaning you won't need a subscription in order to listen. But you will be subjected to adverts.
Just like how the free versions of Spotify and Pandora serve up adverts, Google's new version of Google Play Music will begin playing adverts instead of requiring the $9.99-a-month free from all users. That said, if you still want to pay the fee in order to skip the adverts, you are free to do so.
We've combed through all the details and explained everything below, with the purpose of helping you figure out if Google Play Music is now worth using over rival streaming services.
What is Google Play Music?
Google Play Music is a music streaming service, in which users could also purchase and store individual tracks.
It even stores music. For instance, prior to today's update, users with standard accounts could upload and listen to 50,000 songs at no cost, while an "All Access" subscription, which costs $9.99 a month, allowed on-demand streaming of any song in Google's catalogue as well as the ability to create custom radio stations.
The Google Play Music app also allows music to be stored and listened to offline.
What does the free version of Google Play Music include?
The free, ad-supported tier introduces curated playlists. Google first launched these types of hand-picked stations for Play Music's paying subscribers after it acquired Songza, but now anyone can access them (but that also means you'll never be able to control which song is playing, and in between tracks, you'll hear adverts).
The free tier lacks key features that premium subscribers get after paying up. Free users are limited to six skips per hour. They can also pause tracks, but they can't rewind or fast forward or even see what's next. Also, if you pay for Google Play Music, you can create, edit, rename, and save playlists offline playback. Free listeners can't do that.
Free-tier users get one major bonus, though: they can listen to streams at up to 320kbps. So that's cool.
When will Google Play Music begin pushing adverts?
Google launched the free, advert-supported version of Google Play Music for US users on 23 June. The web version is available now, and a similar update will roll out to Google Play Music's Android and iOS app later this week. It's not yet clear when or if the free tier will expand globally.
Want to know more?
Watch the video above or check out Google's blog post for more information.