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Google Play Music is now free

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Posted at 1:57 PM, Jun 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-23 13:57:05-04

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Google has made its streaming music service Google Play Music free to use, without a subscription.

The catch is that you’ll have to listen to ads, similar to the way free versions of Spotify and Pandora work.

Google launched the new version for U.S. desktop users Tuesday, and will roll out updates to its Android and iOS app later this week. If you still want to pay the $9.99 a month fee to skip the ads, you can.

Just like Spotify and Rhapsody, Google Play Music lets people listen to songs on demand, create playlists, or stream preset compilations that Google thinks you would want to listen to during certain activities.

Launching a free version of Google Play Music comes as no surprise. Streaming media companies have struggled to find enough people willing to pay monthly subscriptions, and have increasingly turned back to selling ads to buoy their businesses.

For example, Spotify recently started letting people listen to music ad-free for 30 minutes in exchange for showing them a video ad. It sounds like a strange mix, but video ads make more money than other types of advertising on the Internet. Only about 30% of Spotify’s user base pay for the monthly service.

Meanwhile, Apple is bucking the trend. Its new Apple Music service is available by subscription-only for $9.99 a month.