Regular readers know I have been a music subscription fan long before it was popular.
I subscribed to Google Play Music two years ago at the $7.99 promotional launch price, but after yesterday's news that Amazon added ad-free radio stations to the iOS Prime Music app I cancelled Google Play All Access.
Amazon Prime Music's new iOS app
I enjoy listening to various genres and having music stream for various periods of the day. I generally don't queue up a single artist or album and enjoy variety in my music. When Google acquired Songza, my favorite mood playing service, last year I was excited to see it integrated into Google Play Music.
Choosing a station or a mood is my preferred approach to music and the new Amazon Prime Music app also now brings that to the iOS platform. Android support is coming later.
With the updated app you can choose stations such as top pop, classic rock, top country, and more and then have the music play without any ads. iTunes Radio, Pandora, and other services provide this as well, but unless you pay a subscription they generally include ads. If you are already an Amazon Prime member then you can enjoy this music at now additional cost. Amazon Prime is $99 per year and provides free two-day shipping, Amazon Prime Instant Video access, and more.
As an Amazon Prime member you can also download music and enjoy it offline. The user interface in Prime Music continues to improve as well. Song lyrics are provided right on your smartphone display via X-Ray Lyrics. I am terrible with lyrics so appreciate seeing these, you can toggle them off too, and when the mood strikes I may just start singing karaoke style.
Amazon states it has over a million songs while Google and Spotify advertise over 30 million so there is a huge disparity in available songs. Then again, it doesn't cost me anything extra to use Amazon Prime Music and I am just not that selective about my music.
Google's device authorization policy
While the radio station functionality tipped me over the top, it was also my frustrations with Google's limited device deactivation policy. This policy has driven a few others I know away from Google Play Music to services such as Spotify and Rdio.
I realize my issues with Google's device de-activation policy is an issue specific to those of us who change devices a lot, but imagine there are many readers here who may be in the same boat. The general public will likely never experience this issue, but then again if they are also already Amazon Prime subscribers then they may appreciate saving about $10 per month and enjoying the additional free Amazon Prime Music service.
Google Play All Access, this also applies to Amazon Prime Music and other services, limit active device activations to a total of 10 devices. This is associated with deals made with the music industry to provide streaming music services and I think it is completely reasonable.
Google Play Music lets you de-authorize up to four devices per year, but beyond that you cannot use Google Play Music with any other devices. Amazon Prime Music lets you de-authorize devices as often as you need to with de-authorizations taking up to 30 days to clear your account. You can also de-authorize all of your devices and start fresh once per year.
After making several contacts I was able to get Google to wipe out all of my device authorizations, but was told this was a one-time event and would not be allowed again. Unfortunately, it is way too easy to setup your Google account on a review phone, hit play in Google Music, and have a new device authorized for usage. After wiping my account a few months ago I have already reached my yearly quote of four device de-authorizations and have five active devices on my account.
Other music subscription services have limitations on active devices and again I completely understand and accept these limitations. These other services, such as Spotify, give you full control over activating and deactivating those devices. As a consumer paying $10 per month for access you should have control over how you enjoy your music and that's where Google needs to improve before I sign up for its music service again.