Metal Tech

A Review of Google Play Music All Access (Hint: It’s Pretty Freaking Awesome)


Google Play Music All Access screen shot

It’s been two days since Google announced their own streaming music service to compete with Spotify — Google Play Music All Access — and now that we’ve had a chance to give a whirl we thought we’d share our finding with you.

First and foremost: just about every metal record you could ever want is available on the service. In this department GPMAA has a leg up on Spotify, with whom several metal labels took years to negotiate (a few still aren’t on Spotify, or have made only part of their catalogues available). Since Google Play had an existing music download store all they had to do was parlay their existing deals to include streaming, or perhaps those deals already had that language preemptively.

Metal Blade appears to be all in; the metal pioneers were some of the last to join Spotify. Cannibal Corpse’s most recent two studio albums are posted on GPMAA, while the most recent on Spotify is 1999’s Bloodthirst — Metal Blade is only posting older albums on Spotify. Prosthetic Records, one of the final Spotify holdouts, seems to have no qualms with GPMAA: both of Animals as Leaders’ albums are posted, ditto for Scale the Summit and Holy Grail, Nero di Marte’s new one is up, The Acacia Strain’s last several records, and so on and so forth (worth noting: Gojira’s two albums before moving over to Roadrunner, which Prosthetic licensed through Listenable Records, are not posted). Let’s all give Prosthetic a round of applause for finally jumping on the streaming bandwagon. Century Media is all in with GPMAA, too: a quick search shows full catalogues by Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity, Nachtmystium and Intronaut posted and streaming in full. Southern Lord has plenty of releases up, and Profound Lore does too though the newest ones appear to be absent.

Sumerian Records is, unfortunately and predictably, holding out. Albums by The Faceless, Veil of Maya and Born of Osiris are posted, but each only contains exactly two streamable tracks. Sumerian treats Spotify the same way.

Let’s talk about the interface now. It’s awesome! The search function smokes Spotify’s. People have always complained about Spotify’s clunky search, and Google has them handily beat. The search function utilizes the full screen instead of just a dropdown menu, and it’s easy to navigate through artists and their discographies. Music keeps playing in a bottom frame even when you press the “back” or “forward” buttons in your browser to continue searching. Everything loads very quickly and navigation is seamless.

The “radio” function seems to work about as well as one could expect and offers the added bonus of showing the entire queue of what’s about to play; you won’t have to wait until the next song starts to know what’s coming, unlike Pandora. You can easily skip or jump tracks if you aren’t feeling the current selection. Nails Radio gave me Nails, Trap Them, All Pigs Must Die, Black Breath, Weekend Nachos, etc. Animals as Leaders Radio gives me AAL, Protest the Hero, The Faceless, The Human Abstract, BTBAM, etc. Pretty spot-on.

"Nails Radio"
“Nails Radio”

The big question: what are Google’s streaming payouts to labels and bands? I have yet to see any solid reports on the matter, but I’ve also yet to hear anyone complain. It’s certainly possible that Google’s payouts are better than Spotify’s, whatwith Google having no free option and not having to account for that. It’s also possible that Google’s payouts are equally as bad but Spotify fell on the proverbial sword since they were first. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this in the coming weeks and months.

A huge knock on GPMAA is that it isn’t available on the iPhone. Boooooo! It can only be used in a computer’s web browser and on Android phones. Considering that, Google’s asking price of $9.99 monthly seems to have a lot less value than Spotify’s, whose $9.99 option includes mobile streaming from any device (the $4.99 Spotify option is for computers only). And, Google, for the love God: change the service’s friggin’ name, it’s horrible.

Google Play Music All Access is offering a free 30-day trial. The $9.99 option is available at a discounted $7.99/month if you sign up by June 30th. You will need to enter a credit card for the free trial and you’ll be charged for the next month if you don’t cancel before 30 days, so make sure you stay on top of that. Sign up for your free trial here.

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