Google Music struggling as user numbers keep on dropping

Google Music, which was made available as a beta back in May last year, and officially launched as a full product in November, doesn’t seem to be doing very well. With cloud integration and social features, and offering both streaming and purchase options, it was hoped that the service would be a big hit with Google’s installed user base, particularly the tens of millions of users with Android devices – but a few months after its official launch, reports suggest that it’s performing well below expectations.

Last week, CNET revealed that numerous insiders had disclosed that users weren’t flocking to the service as hoped, and that revenues were disappointing enough to concern the music labels that had signed up to offer their content.

Google’s position, according to the same sources, is that while its Music service hasn’t yet gained much traction, it will do so “once Google implements its hardware strategy”. There have been reports that Google is planning to build its own consumer devices, such as the Android-powered heads-up display glasses that we reported on recently, and a home media hub designed to stream music wirelessly, as revealed by The Wall Street Journal.

After just one quarter of full availability, it’s certainly too early to be writing off Google Music as a failure just yet, but a new report from music industry veteran Wayne Rosso suggests that things are much worse than has so far been reported. Rosso spoke with a “highly placed digital music executive”, who told him that Google Music has been consistently losing users since its full November launch. The source is quoted as saying: “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s astounding. It’s hard to believe that with an installed base of over 200 million Android handsets, they’re actually losing customers.”

The music labels are said to be concerned by the weak performance of the service so far too. Google’s managers have reportedly attempted to reassure the record companies by referring to its hardware strategy (which it hopes will boost user adoption rates of the service), and by emphasising that Google will spend more on marketing Music once that strategy is in place.

If that’s true, though, it raises the question of why Google would launch the Music service without any real promotion behind it, and before the other pieces of its strategy were ready.

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45 Comments

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If they allowed the rest of the world to access it, it probably wouldn't be struggling so much. When only one country in the entire world can access it though, what do they expect?

I just don't like applications being forced upon me. When I found it installed on my phone, and was flagged as a system application that can't be removed, that just put me on a war path to remove it.

Kelxin said,
I just don't like applications being forced upon me. When I found it installed on my phone, and was flagged as a system application that can't be removed, that just put me on a war path to remove it.

If you don't use a Google music account the phone app is just a local music player, same as the music app in previous Android versions (which I guess was probably a system app too).

Kelxin said,
I just don't like applications being forced upon me. When I found it installed on my phone, and was flagged as a system application that can't be removed, that just put me on a war path to remove it.

Doesn't Windows and Apple do the same thing with their products?... It's the stock Music player. =\

Well the US only thing sucks, but it's not exactly hard to get around.

The problems are that you need to download a third party app just to upload music. Why can't you just drag and drop to the web interface?

And when you do get your music up there, it offers nothing in the way of correcting any errors in the tag data or any real form of sorting or even deleting (easily) what you've uploaded. In short, it's lacking in features and not very user friendly, and the UI sucks.

anybody notice that the google music logo is the same as the windows 8 music app logo? the set of huge over the ear headphones?

I didn't know about the service until I read this article. I think Google might have a promotion issue!

I have used Google Music Beta. I don't like it. The pain in having to upload all of my music was very tiresome after the first 1000 songs. I erased all of my music and dumped the service.

It took me a lot less time to set up a PogoPlug device and have my music available to stream over the Internet. Maybe 10 minutes.

NeoPogo said,
I have used Google Music Beta. I don't like it. The pain in having to upload all of my music was very tiresome after the first 1000 songs. I erased all of my music and dumped the service.

It took me a lot less time to set up a PogoPlug device and have my music available to stream over the Internet. Maybe 10 minutes.

I don't get the 'upload' your music part as being a 'feature'. As a 'fan' of Zune Pass, I can download the music I like, but it is just easier to stream it wherever I am at, and use the 'download' option on my computer/phone when I will be away from the internet.

Somehow, opening a browser from virtually any computer in the world, and clicking play is just a bit too easy, and I don't have to upload anything.

I do have custom music and family albums, which is not a huge collection, I sync it to Skydrive, and have played music from there using the browser playlist trick for nearly 5 years.

(And somehow Google, and Apple letting people upload their music to the cloud is 'new' and brilliant? I really don't get how people that are so misinformed are so quick to take the first pony they notice, instead of realizing people had ponies for years.) *mandatory pony analogy.

thenetavenger said,

I don't get the 'upload' your music part as being a 'feature'. As a 'fan' of Zune Pass, I can download the music I like, but it is just easier to stream it wherever I am at, and use the 'download' option on my computer/phone when I will be away from the internet.

I think the uploading is awesome. I have Gigs and Gigs of music, the last thing I want to do when formating my computer is have to find somewhere to put them all, and remember to do so. By uploading them, I don't have to worry about losing an album.. or a hundred. It's all stored safe and sound on googles servers.

I have about 14000 songs stored on Google Music and use it daily to stream to my phone and tablet. I have occasionally bought new music, as well. I love the integration. I also enjoy Google+ and find it far superior to Facebook. All the people claiming Google+ is failing are delusional. Grow up and use an adult product instead of the kiddie pool of Facebook.

fuzi0719 said,
I have about 14000 songs stored on Google Music and use it daily to stream to my phone and tablet. I have occasionally bought new music, as well. I love the integration. I also enjoy Google+ and find it far superior to Facebook. All the people claiming Google+ is failing are delusional. Grow up and use an adult product instead of the kiddie pool of Facebook.

Delusional. Really?

fuzi0719 said,
I have about 14000 songs stored on Google Music and use it daily to stream to my phone and tablet. I have occasionally bought new music, as well. I love the integration. I also enjoy Google+ and find it far superior to Facebook. All the people claiming Google+ is failing are delusional. Grow up and use an adult product instead of the kiddie pool of Facebook.

I have been streaming my music for over 10 years, using custom servers at my company to start with, and moving to mature offerings like Zune Pass a few years ago.

Even my MP3 collection has been stored on Skydrive since 2007, and I have been using it to stream all my music to any phone, device, or computer.

Why do you think Google is 'magical' and is providing something new or better

Google is providing a crap copy of other Music services, and looks very childish when compared to something more adult like Zune Pass, which is currently the most robust music service option available.

Even free and streaming services like Last.fm are more adult than the crap Google slapped together.

PS. If 'being grown up' means that I must hand over all my personal data to Google, then I don't want to ever grow up.

thenetavenger said,

Google is providing a crap copy of other Music services, and looks very childish when compared to something more adult like Zune Pass, which is currently the most robust music service option available.

Not sure what you mean by "robust" but anyway it doesn't work on my phone, so there.

The only thing I expect from a streaming service is being able to press play on any of my devices and getting the music. Google Music does that, Zune doesn't.

Dusco25 said,
Seems like google is failing at about everything they put out

You mean aside from Android..and their Search engine, because I'm pretty sure they are Winning at those.

I love the cloud storage of music that google music offers. I use that every single day and have well over 3000 songs uploaded to it. I will admit though that I haven't, and am not, going to buy any albums from their digital store.

firey said,
I love the cloud storage of music that google music offers. I use that every single day and have well over 3000 songs uploaded to it. I will admit though that I haven't, and am not, going to buy any albums from their digital store.

I think this could be said for many of us. I use it every day as well and love it, but will never buy a song or album from the store.

Google Music is the superior music app on Ice Cream Sandwich. That being said I'm done paying for music on an album by album basis. The digital locker isn't really a good solution for me. I'd prefer to pay $10 a month for a Zune Pass type service.

GaMMa said,
Google Music is the superior music app on Ice Cream Sandwich. That being said I'm done paying for music on an album by album basis. The digital locker isn't really a good solution for me. I'd prefer to pay $10 a month for a Zune Pass type service.

this

Music services similar to this already exist, and in more countries. Another product offering both streaming and purchase options, integration with Facebook rather than the troubled Google+, and in many more countries than just the US, is Spotify. Personally, I prefer vast music libraries rather than a locker. It helps so much with discovery of new music.

Northgrove said,
Music services similar to this already exist, and in more countries. Another product offering both streaming and purchase options, integration with Facebook rather than the troubled Google+, and in many more countries than just the US, is Spotify. Personally, I prefer vast music libraries rather than a locker. It helps so much with discovery of new music.

I don't see anything troubled about Google+. You just have people who are narrow minded and like being enslaved to Facebook which is now full of spam and starting to look like the old MY SPACE. Mark Suckenberg makes the choices and you are stuck with them rather you like it or not.

It doesn't matter if the music industry pulls out, the cloud locker functionality will still be there, also I'd use it if it was available in the UK.

Nick Kessler said,
I like Amazon MP3 and Cloud Player better but that's just my opinion

I like What.CD better, but that's just my opinion.

Nick Kessler said,
I like Amazon MP3 and Cloud Player better but that's just my opinion

I like opinions better but that's just my opinion.

Nick Kessler said,
I like Amazon MP3 and Cloud Player better but that's just my opinion

I like onions better.

kaczula said,
I have never ever heard of it.
Oh, wait.

US only, that would explaint it.

I'm in the US and I haven't heard of it either.

SoulLance said,
The fact that it's only available in the US also doesn't help with the numbers.

Indeed, i really don't understand what the issue is, yes the terms have to be negotiated with the appropiate rights holders, but whats the holdup in Europe or just some european countries?

Other than that i like it, i use TOR to bypass their regional restrictions and usually pick up an album or two during their sales, it works really well, even the site is translated into my unsupported language/country

FISKER_Q said,
Indeed, i really don't understand what the issue is, yes the terms have to be negotiated with the appropiate rights holders, but whats the holdup in Europe or just some european countries?
It all boils down to the RIAA having to get their cut. The same problem exists for Zune. They'd much rather bemoan this new-fangled internet-thingy than actually work toward getting their business model relevant.

SoulLance said,
The fact that it's only available in the US also doesn't help with the numbers.

this is the same issue I has with zune, it was a great device but the HD/Store was only available to US customers for the longest time

I love Google Music and I use it every day, could use some work on the interface, other than that I'm very satisfied with it!

e2zippo said,
I love Google Music and I use it every day, could use some work on the interface, other than that I'm very satisfied with it!

I think you are getting it all twisted. This article is about the paid service. Not just the app and cloud service.

UndergroundWire said,

I think you are getting it all twisted. This article is about the paid service. Not just the app and cloud service.

I have all my music uploaded to Google Music and Amazon. I am generally against storing content in the cloud, but music is one thing I don't mind storing in the cloud. I just love that I don't have to store music on my phone anymore, as that would consume 99% of the 32 GB internal storage on my Galaxy Nexus. The player is pretty slick too. However, I can't really see myself purchasing any music from Google Music. I'm still a CD type of guy.

tsupersonic said,
I have all my music uploaded to Google Music and Amazon. I am generally against storing content in the cloud, but music is one thing I don't mind storing in the cloud. I just love that I don't have to store music on my phone anymore, as that would consume 99% of the 32 GB internal storage on my Galaxy Nexus. The player is pretty slick too. However, I can't really see myself purchasing any music from Google Music. I'm still a CD type of guy.

I too have my music stored on Google Music. My 32GB Galaxy Nexus is pretty empty thanks to that Cloud Service.

I was never one to purchase music from any service (iTunes, Google, Amazon, Zune, etc...).

It's nothing against it but I don't feel a need to waste money on the RIAA. Instead I support the artist by going to their concerts. I still buy CDs for one artist only.