Tech Talk: Google's Music Solutions' Role In The Market

Google tends not to make too much of a fuss about the finances of their individual products, and often keeps things under wraps. This approach keeps analysts from affecting their stock prices, for the most part, but more importantly, keeps critical information out of the hands of competitors. Figures like the total revenue from Android and the user base of certain Google apps are normally kept squarely under Google's hat, but there is one way to get a decent picture of the market and user base for a given Google product, and that's by surveying users. That is exactly what 7Park and Sensor Tower did. Specifically, they zeroed in on Google's musical efforts, Google Play Music and YouTube Music, which are normally left out of comparisons between the numbers for the big music apps in the market. The data they found indicates that Google's spot in the world of mobile music is actually a fairly respectable one, and they're showing signs of growth.

For starters, Google Play Music is used daily by about 3% of the survey respondents in 7Park's United States data set, putting it ahead of Spotify by a hair, and second only to Pandora in terms of daily active users. Their growth has been fairly steady on this front in the past 24 months. The script is flipped when looking at the world stage, with Google Play Music still hovering around 3%, but Spotify jumping up to 4%. This makes sense, since there are many fairly large markets that Google has relatively little power in. In China, for example, Google's services are extremely limited due to some long-standing animosity with the local government, and almost all Android phones ship without them. Their decent numbers in the USA may have something to do with the fact that 7Park's data set indicates that 93.2% of users surveyed had Google Play Music on their phone, likely because most Android devices these days ship with it.

Things get a bit more interesting in the area of downloads. This data set comes from Sensor Tower, and is based on iOS, where no phone ships with Google Play Music, meaning only interested users will end up downloading it. Here, Google Play Music is second from the bottom, but still beats out Jay-Z's Tidal service, which is a bit of a niche; the app serves up high-quality music files, but only from participating artists, and at a premium. Tidal's audience is essentially limited to die-hard fans of the artists on board, and audiophiles willing to shell out good amounts of money for outstanding sound equipment and files to play on it. What all that means, basically, is that Google Play Music is considered the bottom of the barrel on iOS. While that seems to be a given, the strange part is that YouTube Music, a specialized version of the YouTube app that focuses on music, but ultimately gives access to the same videos as the main app, is the third most downloaded among respondents, only topped by the ever-popular Pandora and Spotify. Even more interestingly, its place would have been significantly lower had it not been for a fairly recent spike in downloads.

While the data sets are far from official and were crowdsourced from a survey group, the trends on show here are still pretty plain to see. On Android, in the US at least, a good amount of users have Google Play Music by default, which means that using it is effortless. This is likely at least part of why the app scores near the top in daily average users. Internationally, we can see that the app is still doing fairly well despite only being packaged on for a limited number of devices, meaning that a good number of users are choosing to go to the trouble of downloading it in order to get it where it is. There is plenty to like about Google Play Music, such as the near-unlimited cloud storage or the ease of use, making it easy to see why it's doing at least somewhat well internationally. One of the bigger mysteries of all of this data is why YouTube Music, essentially a music-themed shell for the existing YouTube app with a few extra features, is doing so much better on iOS than Google Play Music. In any case, the moral of the story is that Google has some real footholds in the mobile music world, and while they may not be top dog, they aren't going anywhere any time soon.

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About the Author
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Daniel Fuller

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, voice assistants, AI technology development, and hot gaming news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]
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