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(Update: Android app updated) Google Play Music now has free, ad-supported radio

Today, Google has announced that Google Play Music will have free, ad-supported radio so people no longer need an All Access pass to use the service!

Published onJune 23, 2015

Update: Google has just started pushing out the update to its Google Play Music Android application. Version 6.0 (up from v5.9) brings ad-supported radio, as well as a few user interface tweaks.

Most importantly, though, is the addition of free music streaming. While the feature is quite convenient for those who don’t want to pay a premium price for streaming music, there are a ton of advertisements in this section of the app. Not only will ads be shown in between songs, but there are also quite a few banner and pop up ads that show up when you’re browsing through music. To clarify, ads don’t show up when you’re browsing through your own music – only when you’re searching through radio stations and playlists. Take a look at the screenshots below to get a closer look:

In addition, the navigation drawer is getting a few tweaks in the new update as well. The navigation drawer now shows the New Releases and Browse Stations tabs, while the Playlists and Radio tabs have been moved to My Library. These are of course minor changes, but it’s clear now that Google is trying to urge users to try out its music streaming initiative. Oh, and if you aren’t a subscriber to Google Play All Access, the navigation drawer will show you a big blue “Subscribe” banner on the bottom that sticks out like a sore thumb. At all times.

Original post: One of the mechanics that made Spotify and Pandora so popular is that they can be entirely free to use as long as you don’t mind the occasional commercial. It’s a paradigm that has seen great success and is one of the few free ways to listen to music and support the artist. Now, you can get that same experience on Google Play Music without an All Access subscription.

Previously, those with an All Access pass could get access to curated playlists or “radio stations” based on what kind of stuff they wanted to listen to. These include playlists like Brand New Music and Driving Music. If you’ll recall, these were added to Google Play Music courtesy of Songza after Google acquired them in July of last year.

Starting today, people can listen in on these hand-crafted playlists anytime they want without the $9.99/month All Access subscription. Free listeners will be subjected to occasional commercials to help pay for the content. In the official announcement, they have even provided a list of the top 10 stations for you to try out if you haven’t yet. Aside from those, there are a metric ton of stations that run the gambit on genre, mood, feel, and atmosphere. Most of the stations are actually very well done.

Google Play Music Ad Free promo
There is no doubt that this is designed to get more people interested in Google Play Music. Despite having a very robust platform that includes some very unique features, Google Play Music hasn’t quite been able to pierce the mainstream veil like the powerhouse music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora. With this, people will be able to get into Google Play Music without paying anything. We think it’s a good move.

Now for the bad news. It’s only available in the United States. Starting today, anyone in the US will be able to access the free radio stations on the web. Android and iOS support will be rolling out over the course of the next week or so. If you want to continue the discussion, feel free to do so in the comments! If you want to download Google Play Music in anticipation of the new feature rollout, you can do so using the button below.

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