It isn't perfect, but All Access is a step closer than anything else I've found
Like many people this week, I received an email from Google Play as a gentle reminder that my free trial for Google Play Music All Access was about to end, and that the subscription I signed up for will be charged in a couple of days. "Wow, it's been a month since Google I/O?" was my first reaction. Indeed, it has been a month, and now I was faced with the task of evaluating whether or not I was receiving more than $7.99 worth of value out of my pending monthly payment to Google.
I don't listen to a whole ton of music, I'm not too particular about what I listen to and I rarely find myself buying music at all. Before Google released All Access I primarily relied on a mixture of Pandora (well, about 90-percent of the time) along with my own music collection uploaded to Google Play Music. The draw of a subscription service like Spotify or Rdio just wasn't there for me because at about $10 per month I didn't see the value in them -- I wasn't buying much music anyway, so how is this a good deal?
But, at least for now, Google's going to be getting $7.99 per month from me.
For my uses, All Access represents a value proposition that is simply based in the fact that it is now a one-stop-shop for all things music. The main feature I've used out of All Access is the radio functionality, which takes what I've been used to on Pandora and goes a step further. Being able to search or browse for any artist or song, listen to it and instantly start a never-ending radio station from it is a huge plus for me, and something that's frankly done much better than Pandora ever could. The music selection is greater, the playlists are dynamic and infinitely skip-able and I'll never be paused to listen to an advertisement.
Interestingly, after using the service for a month I don't find myself building tons of new playlists or adding All Access music to my own library all that often. But when I did hear about a new song or artist, I could with one search in Play Music start listening to it right away. Now I generally won't listen to specific music enough over time to justify purchasing a full album, but I get the feeling that listening to a few new albums a month justifies the subscription cost. And when I do make the decision that I like an album or song enough to listen to it often, it is completely seamless to add it to my library where it is then indistinguishable from any of my own uploaded music.
The combination of great radio functionality and the ability to listen to any music I could find (and add it to my own library and playlists) when I have that need easily makes All Access worth the $7.99 monthly to me. Add this to the fact that it's all inside the same Google Play Music app and web interface that I was already using for my own music, and I really didn't have to think twice about whether to accept that pending subscription.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.