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Google Play Music All Access Versus Spotify



When Google announced their Google Play Music All Access service, some wondered if services like Spotify would survive. For at least one customer, it won’t. I will likely take the leap once the service makes the move to iOS… if a few assumptions prove true.

Sundar Pichai told the audience at the All Things D conference that they’d likely release a version that runs on iOS. Since many Spotify users install the app on both iOS and Android devices, Google has to follow through and get their music app through the rigorous Apple iTunes App Store screening process, something they couldn’t do in the early days of some other apps. Google Voice, and more recently Google Maps, hit snags. If Google does release an iOS version, those of us who use both platforms will find Google Play Music All Access service more enticing, despite the horrible name.

Here’s a comparison of the two systems.

Google Play Music All Access


Google offers the service for about $10, but those who sign up in May or June can get it for $8. That’s $2 less than Spotify Premium costs. Spotify offers three tiers: a free version for computer only, one for $5/month that works like the free version but without ads and then the Premium tier that works on a phone or tablet and lets users download playlists for offline listening. Google Play Music All Access doesn’t have an offline function. Heavy listeners, or those with skimpy data plans, should seriously consider this before switching. But most users won’t see the lack of offline listening as a hurdle. At 5GB/month on AT&T we never approach our limit, even with moderate streaming.

To sign up for the discounted service on Google head over to After just 5 months the savings will afford listeners the equivalent of a free month.

Music Selection

Selection could stop some users from making the switch. Spotify boasts 20 million songs while Google Play Music All Access only promises 18 million plus. Who cares who has the most? It’s important that they serve up the songs a subscriber wants to hear. Not surprisingly, both featured the current Billboard top ten hits.

sonseed on google play music all access

If a service offers this obscure title, then listeners can confidently assume their favorites will show up in the library.

There’s an obscure silly song by a Christian Ska group called Sonseed that I use to see how deep the collection goes. If a service offers up the whimsical but obscure son Jesus is a Friend of Mine, then it’s likely to include the most popular as well. Both services found the song and every other song we looked for.

App Quality

spotify found Jesus is a Friend of Mine

Spotify’s Android app showing the Dave Brubeck Hits jazz playlist ready for download

The final nail in Spotify’s coffin will come in the form of the Google Play Music All Access iPhone and/or iPad app. First, it must offer both and they must function well. A measly $2/month isn’t enough to convince me, if finding music in the app feels like getting dental work. Based on the current Android app and other iPhone and iPad apps from Google, we’re hopeful that they will deliver. But we’ll wait to see before we take the jump permanently.



  1. mcox1124

    06/03/2013 at 11:17 am

    All Access does allow offline storage. You click the pin icon on an album or song to keep it on your device. It even has settings where you can choose to keep it while on mobile data (LTE, 3G) and it won’t actually store it until you are on WiFi, which will automatically occur.

    I’ve used both Spotify and All Access (and MOG, and Rdio, and Rhapsody…) and All Access is my favorite so far. The only part where Spotify shines is the social media integration, including playlist sharing. I don’t care about that personally, though.

    The big winner is that I have one app and All Access is a feature of it, so whatever I want to add to my library, or “keep”, it just adds it to my library and it’s there on all web browsers. Granted, I’m not an iOS or WP user, so I have Google Play on all my devices.

    • mcox1124

      06/03/2013 at 11:19 am

      To be fair, if you were referring to offline usage on a desktop browser, I concede my point :)

      • kjelderg

        06/04/2013 at 3:04 pm

        But since he was talking about mobile data, he was most likely just overlooking the fact that it does offer offline viewing.

  2. longsimple

    06/05/2013 at 1:02 pm

    Plus you can upload your own songs to Google Music and they are automatically added to your library. Using google music manager you can download your entire library.

  3. Chelsea

    06/15/2013 at 2:04 am

    At 18 million Google is only 10% behind Spotify, for a new launch thats actually quite impressive. Also I found out that you can take Google All Access music offline permanently via

  4. Jim

    06/25/2013 at 12:32 pm

    I really like Spotify and have been into it for a few years – but I’m moving to Google Play – primarily because I feel the monthly subscription cost for Spotify is too high (and the free version which I’ve been using doesn’t allow full use from your iPhone). Whereas Google is free, there is a 69 pence app for the iPhone (Melodies) and you have so much flexibility (upload your own MP3s, stream, buy songs/albums for offline, …) – stuff you can’t do fully with the free version of Spotify at least

    Like someone else said, though – the downside of Google Play is the lack of Facebook integration. I hate the way these Internet/Web 2.0 companies are refusing to integrate with each other. It’s like Microsoft vs … from the 90’s all over again :-(

  5. LoneRanger

    06/27/2013 at 9:01 pm

    I really want to give it a try but i am too scraed to give my payment details to google. It is forcing me to setup google wallet which I don’t want to do. I have read a lot that google will also charge the bill to my wireless provider if we buy content from google play, I want to be notified about any payment prior to my purchase and I highly doubt if google does that. This is my first use of andriod and kinda looks scary, all tha apps want to access my personal information including my contacts.

    • Matthew

      06/28/2013 at 12:43 pm

      You have to authorize individual payments via password. It’s not unlike using PayPal. For stuff like Google All Access, it will be on a recurring payment, but you can see the recurring payment date in the app.

      As for apps accessing your personal data: All apps, including iOS and Windows Phone access data. The difference is that Android actually tells you about it.

  6. Nesly Lacroix

    07/01/2013 at 9:00 am

    This article is flawed on many counts. I am currently testing All Access while I’ve been using Spotify for quite a while. So far, I can say All Access is not even close. First the cloud locker feature mentioned in this article should not be considered as it is available free and not exclusive to All Access. Music selection is way better on Spotify. All access is currently available only on Android. Who knows when we will see the iOS app they’ve been promising? Spotify has a great ecosystem of apps and is integrated with Facebook. This is very important for many. Another important thing: Spotify mobile app streams at 48kbps in Org Vorbis format while All Access is up to 320kbps in MP3. Conclusion: All Access is not a serious competitor to Spotify.

    • Matthew

      07/01/2013 at 9:46 am

      This article was written over a month ago. Most people were still discovering the features, so I think calling it “flawed” is a bit drastic. But, by that logic, I’d say your argument is pretty “flawed”, too.

      I’m with the author though, I’ve ditched Spotify for All Access and won’t be turning back.

      The “cloud locker” is part of Google Play Music, and it is free to store your own music. The All Access portion is what allows you to store any music you find to your existing library. Integrating the service into your own library rather than building a library out of a service lets you use a single eco-system which is far more valuable to some (most?) people. As for the selection, many people have done side-by-side tests and yes, Spotify has a better selection of far-fringe music, but anything from eclectic to mainstream, it does the job quite well. I wouldn’t say Spotify has a “way better” selection. That’s a matter of opinion and what is most important to an individual.

      Music quality was a big beef of mine with Spotify. It claimed to stream at 320kbps with a Premium subscription, but in reality, it still only streamed what the artist provided. Many artists only provide 128-192kbps at best, but Spotify still streamed at 320, meaning your data on a mobile device was being drained unnecessarily. I have consistently had better quality music on All Access.

      People cry about it not yet being available on iOS, but when it does show up, these cries will be moot.

  7. Nesly Lacroix

    07/03/2013 at 7:42 pm

    Your reply shows you don’t really know what you are talking about. Spotify streams to mobile devices at 48kbps in Org Vorbis which is equivalent to 256kbps AAC. I have always found Spotify to have superior sound. Lack of FB integration is the last nail to All Access coffin. If you are an iOS user, you don’t have access to the service. Except through a 3rd party app which is itself buggy. As I continue to test All Access, I find it lacking on many counts. My music taste is very eclectic so selection is very important to me. If you’ve been a Spotify user, you know about the ecosystem of apps and 3rd party support for Spotify. All Access has none. The big question is what revolutionary thing has All Access brought? It is just playing catch up to established players like Spotify, Rdio, MOG, etc.

    • Matthew

      07/03/2013 at 8:22 pm

      Haha… 320 mp3 is better than 256 aac, or the equivalent. Now if it was 320 aac, you’d have a point since aac is compressed a little bit better, but most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. When it comes to sound quality, I definitely know what I’m talking about.

      The Facebook integration is not a big deal to me. It’s a relative preference. Personally, I found it annoying because I rarely share musical tastes with a lot of people. If you like the FB integration, either you aren’t as eclectic as you think, or you’re just annoying people with your shared playlists. On the other hand, I can’t speak to the 3rd party plugins because I’ve never had a need or desire to use those.

      As I mentioned above, the best part of All Access, at least in my opinion, is that it integrates with my existing library. I want one source for my music. All Access provides just that. To my knowledge, none of the other services provide that. It’s so simple.

      I’m not an iOS user anymore, so the one major gap does not affect me. Nor the leading market share of users.

      So, here’s my question: if All Access is so lame for you, why are you still using it? If everything else works so much better, just go back. Use what works for you. Don’t sit there and use something you don’t like and just whine about it.

  8. Tyler

    07/20/2013 at 5:40 pm

    He Has a Point @Matthew. Matthew is right. Besides iOS is a HUGE competitor to Android. ESPECIALLY it being GOOGLE PLAY!!! Google Play is the Equivalent to Apple’s whatever it is called. Why would Google give its service to a HUGE competitor like Apple? It is all about exclusiveness.

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