Eliot Van Buskirk, editor, Evolver.fm: One criticism that could be made of any on-demand digital music subscription is that it’s essentially the same set of songs and rules on each one. What does Google see as the keys to differentiating Google Play Music All Access from the competition?
Paul Joyce, product manager, Google Play Music: Google’s approach is that, with that as a given, what can we do to make things better? The first axis is, ‘Play to Google’s strengths’: cloud computing, cloud streaming, cloud storage, cloud infrastructure in general. And where you see that starting to create differentiation is that you can expand the bounds of the catalog. We combine our free, 20,000-song personal music locker with the full catalog. Where a standard service might be hit by windowing, or unavailability of certain things, whether they were commercially-released or live recordings — if they’re part of your collection with Google Music, they’re part of All Access. That’s one dimension.
Secondly, as you said, it’s the same rules, and that’s right. The question is: How can you apply them more creatively? We looked at radio as it exists across the services is generally very good for a completely passive experience, but it’s not good for times when you want to be more interactive. We asked, “How can we change that?” That’s why we decided to show you the full set of songs coming next. We let you rearrange them, we let you delete them, we let you add things, or you could do nothing and just let it play, and obviously you can skip at any point. You can mix in things that aren’t part of the service [by which he means the up to 20,000 MP3s you’ve collected for free in your Google Play locker].
Say it’s a few minutes before dinner, and you’ve been frantically cooking for friends, and you want some music, and you really haven’t had time to think about it. You could just start with one song — that one feed song — build a radio station, and then very, very quickly, edit it to your taste, so it’s really the same as if you’d spent hours slaving over a playlist.
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