Google Play Music: The Best Music Subscription Service

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Spotify offers a web-based player. It gets the job done, but it’s a bit slow. It’s not nearly as elegant as the Google Play Music web app.

Google Play Music Comes with YouTube Red

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I get a free YouTube Red subscription with Google Play Music. YouTube Red provides an advertisement-free experience. It also gives you access to exclusive YouTube shows. Just like Netflix and others, YouTube has gotten into the content-creation business. You can only watch these shows with a YouTube Red subscription.

YouTube Music Subscription Included with Google Play Music

If a free YouTube Red subscription isn’t appealing enough, you also get access to YouTube Music. Simply download the app and login with your Google account. YouTube Music is a music video subscription service. Personally, I’m not that excited about it. Most of the artists I listen to don’t make music videos. Furthermore, it limits the selection of music to hits. Artists typically only make a few music videos for each album. YouTube Music is a great adjunct to Google Play Music, for those with more mainstream musical tastes.

Google Play Music Needs Some Minor User Interface Tweaks

Google Play Music isn’t all good. The iOS app has a few annoying quirks. When you have drilled down into an artist and album, there’s no convenient way to get back to the main menu. Users are forced to tap the back button a few times before they even see the “hamburger” button. This could be easily solved by adding the menu button to every screen.

Music playback can also stutter when using AirPlay. AirPlay is Apple’s technology for beaming audio and video to Apple TV. When I play music on Google Play Music, it always stutters when the album cover is displayed on Apple TV for the first time. I’m not positive that this is Google’s fault. Apple “overhauled” AirPlay and introduced a lot of bugs. AirPlay has problems with every music app I have tried, including Apple Music. But the album art issue is unique to Google Play Music. I found that forcing the screen saver on prevents this problem. Apple TV does have very attractive aerial screen savers. I actually prefer them to most album covers, with the exception of any artwork done by Roger Dean.

Google Play Music Recommendations Not as Good as Spotify

Google Play Music’s recommendations aren’t very good. This is actually surprising, given their expertise with massive sets of data and their predictive computing capabilities. The recommendations are obvious and sparse. Users only get a handful of recommendations, and for the most part, they’re just radio stations of artists you’ve already listened to. I hoped that the recommendations would get better over time. Maybe their recommendation algorithm just needed more input. After a month, I can see that there’s no improvement. (continue…)

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