Monday, November 21, 2016

How Google Play Music is changing the game with Big Data & Machine Learning

In this news article from, Google is looking to use the power of big data analytics and machine learning to enhance its capabilities and functionality of their music streaming service, Google Play Music. With this rollout comes a lot of features that hope to compete against the big data analytics capabilities of some of Google’s competitors such as Netflix and Amazon. The concept is that big data will select music based on the time of day, location, weather, mood you are in, and other daily habits such as recognizing when you are walking the dog or going on a jog.

Currently, I believe we have the big data to correctly and efficiently produce a good list of suggestions and selections with applications such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, etc. However, I do not think we are using the right factors to determine those suggestions, which is why I personally am excited about this introduction of new big data and machine learning from Google Play Music. Countless times with Netflix are the suggestions hit-or-miss, which can really hurt a user’s enjoyment of an application since these applications have so much content to search through – if I spend more than 10 minutes searching for something interesting to watch on Netflix I simply just quit out of Netflix and go to something else.

With regards to the music streaming service specifically, I think big data and machine learning capabilities have already existed through services such as Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud and YouTube. However, as someone who avidly listens to music all day every day, there are definitely flaws that need to be addressed – for example, just because I went to sleep after a long night out Saturday listening to dance music and rap doesn’t mean I should be suggested the same songs on the following, groggy early Sunday morning. With this new use of big data analytics from Google Play, I might actually download and subscribe to the music service if it fulfills its promises.

My one concern however, is that in order for these types of streaming services to work, they have to collect the big data from you first, which means that even the first few weeks of listening might not produce the results I would hope to achieve immediately. I think Google might want to look into doing some sort of initial survey when signing up to the service (similar to what Beats did with Apple Music) to quickly gather some big data that can be used as a foundation to build a profile for the listener.

I think if Google can nail this update with Google Play Music, it will change the music streaming service substantially (in addition to bolstering Google’s already generally lackluster reputation for music streaming services). It would also be interesting to see what future updates they could have; maybe changing the music depending on whether there is a group of people listening or just one person would be a neat addition for other avid music listeners.

Image result for google play music



  1. This is a very interesting article, that Chandler brought to our attention. This is the first time that I have actually heard of Google Play Music, and it is quite a revolutionizing concept. But can Google compete in an already over saturated music streaming market? My initial thought is no, there is too much competition. Like Chandler mentioned there are many streaming options available on the market already such as Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, Tidal and Youtube, but one in particular he forgot to mention Amazon's Echo. Echo is a hands free speaker that you can control with your voice. Echo is basically like a personal assistant that can also provide information and order Amazon products. Echo's music service is streamed with Amazon Music, but can also play other streaming platforms like Spotify.

    This is why my initial thought was incorrect. Although the music streaming business is already very competitive, there is no streaming platform quite as unique as Google Play Music. Google Music is completely different then it's other competitors, and that's why I believe it will do well. It's not only a streaming site, but its more of an assistant. It learns your habits and can suggest music based on the times of the day and weather. This is something brand new to music streaming and can revolutionize the business. Through data analytics Google is differentiating themselves and gaining a share in the market. I believe if Google and Amazon can pair their products together it can provide the ultimate listening experience and completely takeover the market share of music streaming platforms.

  2. Not surprisingly, Chandler articulately discusses the shortcomings of current music-streaming services. As someone who has a (very) diverse taste in music, I've always been under-impressed by offerings from Pandora and Spotify.

    Chandler discusses the use of an initial survey during the sign-up for Google Play Music, and I agree that a survey is a great start to effective, accurate recommendations. However, as a current Apple Music subscriber (who had to take a survey at the onset of subscription) I'd add that one survey is not enough.

    Certainly, services like these enable us the ability to provide feedback regarding recommendations (clicking the "heart" in Apple Music for example). However, most listeners don't take the time to do that-- the act of listening to music is usually a passive activity for a multitasking individual.

    I'd argue that services like Google Play Music and Apple Music should utilize push notifications as a way to prompt users to fill out routine "update" surveys. Users could set how frequently they would want to be notified; then, just like a Facebook or Instagram notification on your smartphone, users are prompted with a note to fill out a vector survey, with refined artist choices, questions regarding the frequency of a genre being played etc.

    This type of user-input data is crucial to the growth in subscriber bases for these offerings. Yes, there will always be challenges getting people to "submit" this type of data and information, but provided the solicitation is done in a familiar way participation could be fairly strong, in turn enhancing the product's perceptional and ultimately, revenues.

  3. I completely agree with Chandler’s point about the issue with services similar to what Google Play Music is saying that they will do. I often struggle with deciding what show or movie I want to watch on Netflix and some of the time I can find something based off of their suggestions for me, but other times I find myself out of luck and just give up. This would be disappointing if Google Play Music turned out to similarly disappointing, but if it is a success then I look forward to trying it out. I frequently find myself unsure of what music I am in the mood to listen to so having a streaming service tell me instead of having me think about it would up the ante in regards to my expectations for every other streaming service. It would save me the time of picking songs or shuffling through playlists to find the right song and leave more time for me to actually listen to the music. It is smart of Google to add this to their list of services because in order to stay competitive, a company must keep up with the trends and music streaming is definitely a big trend for people of any generation.
    Furthermore, I also had the same concern as Chandler when reading about this new streaming service in regards to the fact that in order for this service to be accurate and know exact information about the user, it would probably take some time for it to figure out the user’s schedule, habits, mood, etc. because it would need a base to determine all of these details. It would be impossible for it to just work as it should without properly knowing about the user. Therefore, it would be awhile before users were able to obtain the experience that they would like and this would need to be stated to the users before they downloaded so that they do not end up disappointed or feel misled. Chandler also makes a good point about having listeners take an in-depth survey before entering the service. I have been a part of subscription services before that had me take a survey and based choices off of what I picked and it was pretty accurate. If Google is successful in this endeavor, then they will become a big competitor in the music streaming industry.

  4. Chandler’s commentary on the article “How Google Play Music is Changing the Game with Big Data and Machine Learning” appealed to me particularly because I was never completely satisfied with both Spotify and Pandora, two popular music streaming applications. Like Chandler says, I like the idea that Google plans on using big data analytics to detect what type of music to stream based on the user’s daily schedule and activities. As a Spotify Premium member, one of the biggest downfalls of Spotify’s service are the inaccurate suggestions for music based on previously listened to songs. I think Google is already putting themselves above the other leading music streaming services just by recognizing what customers want out of their music experience and what they are failing to receive through the other applications.
    However, I do believe it cannot be easy to accomplish this sort of personalization. Chandler’s suggestion about a member survey is actually a great idea because it allows the consumer to voluntarily enter information that they want Google to know about their music choices. From Google’s perspective, a customer survey is also beneficial for them because it will confirm that their customer is listening to music that they actually enjoy listening to at the respective time of day.


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