Google Debuts Ad-Supported Radio Service Week Before Apple Music's Release

Radio Stations Will Be Curated Based on Things Like Mood, Genre and Activity

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Google's suite of music streaming services is starting to look a lot more like the one Apple will roll out next week.

On Tuesday, Google added a Pandora-style free, ad-supported radio service to its Spotify-like on-demand music service Google Play Music. Previously Google Play Music charged people $9.99 a month to listen to any of the more than 30 million songs in Google's library on any device whenever they want.

Google's free radio service -- which is launching first in the U.S. through a website and mobile apps for smartphones and tablets running Google's Android or Apple's iOS operating systems -- seems to be primarily a sales tactic to get people to subscribe to its paid, ad-free service.

"We hope you'll enjoy it so much that you'll consider subscribing to Google Play Music to play without ads, take your music offline, create your own playlists, and listen to any of the 30 million songs in our library on any device and as much as you'd like," Google product manager Elias Roman wrote in a company blog post announcing the radio service.

Like Pandora, Apple's iTunes Radio and Spotify's curated playlists, Google's radio stations will be curated according to categories like genre, mood, decade and activity. People will also be able to check out stations organized around specific artists, albums or songs that will play similar music. Google's ability to curate these stations stems from its acquisition in June 2014 of curated music streaming service Songza.

Google's radio service will feature traditional and interactive display ads as well as skippable TrueView video ads but will not carry audio ads at launch, according to a Google spokeswoman. Advertisers will be able to buy the ads through Google's AdWords product that sells its search ads and the display ads it runs across a network of third-party sites, and the radio ads can be targeted using the same options as regular AdWords ads such as by keyword and location. The spokeswoman said Google is experimenting with how many ads to run per hour and how often.

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