Google launches free ad-supported radio on Google Play in the US

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 24, 2015
Music and Video

Google announced yesterday that it has launched a new service on Google Play that brings ad-supported radio to Google users from the US.

There is certainly no shortage when it comes to listening to music on the web. There is Internet Radio, the granddaddy of music streaming, video hosting services like YouTube, music-specific services like SoundCloud, and numerous paid services like Spotify or Apple Music.

Google Play Music was offered in two different flavors up until recently. The first allowed you to upload music from your computer to the cloud to listen to it online, the second to listen to a vast library of songs made available by Google for a monthly fee.

Yesterday's launch of ad-supported radio in the US adds a third option that is currently limited to the United States.

google play music radio

When you open Google Play Music today in the US, you may see options at the top to tune in to various time and mood based stations

The selection presented to me this morning included "waking up happy", "waking up with energy" and "singing in the shower". Depending on the time of day, a different selection of radio stations may be displayed to you including "working out", "bedtime" or "brand new music".

Once you make a selection on the landing page, you are taken to a page where you are asked to pick a genre such as rap and R&B, alternative, or classic rock.

The page afterwards displays additional options. If you select "happy '90s hits" for instance, you may tune in to "1990s Anger Management", "90s Crowd Pleasing Hits" or "Happy in the Alt-Rock 90's".

Music starts to play instantly afterwards and the page you are taken to lists artists that are played on the station and similar stations you may be interested in.

The very same page offers a description of the radio station that you just tuned in to and advertisement.

google play music free

Advertisement appears limited to display ads (both static and dynamic including video) on the page. Since you can switch away from the tab or minimize the browser window, it is not too bad and less disruptive than audio ads between songs.

The new ad-supported version of Google Play Music is already available on the Web for users from the United States. Google mentioned that it will be rolling out this week to Android and iOS, but provided no information on international launch dates.

Who is this for?

The service is free and the advertisement displayed is less disruptive than audio ads that play between songs.

It is limited to the US right now however and you may only tune in to stations that you define broadly based on what Google makes available to you.

While that is true for most radio offerings on the Web, you may prefer how services like Pandora let you pick an artist or song in the beginning so that related music is played.

One thing that needs to be mentioned is that you may only skip a limited number of times. Once you have skipped songs a few times a notification is displayed to you displaying the number of skips left and a link to upgrade the free account to the paid Google Play Music account.

Google launches free ad-supported radio on Google Play in the US
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Google launches free ad-supported radio on Google Play in the US
Google launched an ad-supported free radio version of Google Play Music yesterday in the United States.

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  1. Inderjeet said on June 24, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    All of my instant mixes turned into radio stations, which I don’t like. I’m really upset about losing so much of the “Listen Now” page, which I really liked before, to the new ad-supported radio stations instead of my music collection that I paid for already. I understand needing prominent placement for new features so they’re discoverable, but I wish it didn’t *completely* take over the dashboard.

  2. FOSS said on June 24, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    I’d like to know that why Adobe Flash Player is required for streaming.

  3. chesscanoe said on June 24, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I signed up yesterday for this service, and am pleased. I customized for the maximum classical choices (I kept clicking until I couldn’t pick anymore). The service downloads music in a big but infrequent chunk about every 3 minutes. A playlist showing current and past music is optionally visible in the same tab. The frequency and dynamic ranges sound good to me, but I don’t have numbers to back that up.

  4. kalmly said on June 24, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Pandora. RadioTunes (once SkyRadio). iHEART. No Google. :)

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