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An Interview with Google Music Guru Tim Quirk
If you read this column, you know we try to cover as many new music platforms as we possibly can with one goal: getting your music to new fans. This month, we take on one of the big boys: Google Play Music All Access [editor’s note – this is quite the mouthful]. Google Play Music is free for anyone to use. For $9.99, you can get “All Access,” allowing you to stream unlimited music (ad free) from their catalog of over 18 million songs coupled with your own, spawn radio stations by song, and control your playlist in real-time (unlike Pandora), on any device (iOS support coming very soon).
Here’s a direct link for both: play.google.com/about/music
We chatted with the legendary Tim Quirk, ‘Google Play Head of Global Content Programming’ – in short, he is Google’s music guru. We talked about Google Play Music and specifically, the All Access service.
Performer Mag: I liked the ability in Radio to swipe away what comes up in playlist, also the obvious cloud integration for any device, any time. Aside from those features, what, to you, makes All Access different?
Tim Quirk: I’d start with those two things, controlling your listening experience and being able to do that from anywhere, on any device at anytime, that’s significant. The fact is that with All Access you’re combining your collection with everything else in the world. That’s the difference.
Performer Mag: Walk us through how All Access came about. What is the ultimate goal of the service?
Tim Quirk: We started with the Music Locker for your collection, and then we tried to solve the problems with syncing to limited devices, and after, added the music store. We found that a lot of people never bothered to download MP3s, and were instead adding them into playlists. For instance, you might be at work and find a song you really like, it may not be a good time to download – find a song and now it’s in your collection. We wanted to make the availability of music super dead simple. The latest piece of the process was All Access – the ability to add your own collection to the rest of the world’s collection. Our goal is literally “All Access.” We want you to be able to listen to every recording in music history, anytime, form anywhere.
Performer Mag: How are the habits of music fans changing?
Tim Quirk: I was at Rhapsody before we called these things “services,” and I learned a lot from that experience. I think many people saw it as a warehouse, but we built it as a service instead of as a product. We feel like we need to convince music fans of that “service as a value” concept; it’s an ongoing education.
Performer Mag: How has that education changed since joining Google? Is it getting better?
Tim Quirk: Yes. The ability to mix and match stuff – like storage, downloads, and radio – is powerful. Basically, All Access seamlessly matches what you already own with what you can possibly own. Gmail is a good example of how we approach music. Most people don’t refer to Gmail as “my cloud-based email storage solution,” they just use their Gmail; it’s simple and always there. We’re trying to be the Gmail of music: simple and seamless.
Performer Mag: You’re an infamous music junkie, so how do you like using All Access?
Tim Quirk: Our ultimate goal is to give people music, recognizing that the same people don’t want to use music the same way at the same time. For me, I like listening to songs, and maybe once a decade, I’ll get into a mood to hear all of the KISS albums (well – maybe up until Love Gun [editor’s note #2 – everything after Love Gun is amazing, too, for the record]) and then I’m done. But, it’s only once a decade, and I don’t want, or need, all of their albums to follow me around. So, with All Access I did just that, and then moved on.
Performer Mag: How can our readers (musicians, songwriters, artists) best get their music into the Google Play Music system and available on All Access?
Tim Quirk: First, there is no “preferred” method of getting into to Google Play Music. I always say, “Metadata is Merchandising.” You absolutely want it to be absolutely correct. For artists just starting out, or very independent, we have the Artist Hub on Google Play (play.google.com/artists). We also work with aggregators if that fits your current situation better. The most important piece artists must get right is “genre.” There’s a big difference between being inspired by Led Zeppelin and sounding like them.
The fact is, people who subscribe to services spend more on music than those who do not. Quirk is trying to “make average citizens crate-digging music junkies,” so get your metadata in order and get your music on All Access now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
-Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.