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Google launches music service in Canada as streaming competition heats up

TORONTO - Google is stepping into the streaming music game in Canada with the launch of Google Play Music, the latest in a growing number of services that could change how Canadians listen to their favourite songs.

The company announced Monday that its all-access subscription service would be the centrepiece for a broader digital music service that offers music on mobile phones, tablets and personal computers.

Aside from streaming, users can also buy tracks for their personal collections, quite similar to Apple's iTunes store.

Google's streaming service is one of the most extensive offerings available to Canadians yet, and a highlight of the technology giant's launch into selling music in Canada.

Google Play Music users will have streaming access to 25 million songs, which the company says is several million more tracks than its U.S users can access. The cost is $9.99 per month, after an introductory rate.

The rollout will be available for phones and tablets on both the Android operating system and Apple's iOS devices.

"You can create radio stations from any of your favourite tracks, artists or genres, or you can listen to our precurated playlists from Google Play Music's team of music experts," said Zahavah Levine, director of global music partnerships at Google Play.

Levine said the Canadian version of the service will cater to local tastes, which includes a selection of Francophone music and a playlist that showcases this year's Juno Award winners.

The presence of legal on-demand streaming music has been limited until recently in Canada.

Last month, Shaw Communications partnered with digital service Rdio to help expand its presence in the country as part of a marketing, content and promotion partnership.

Last year, free streaming music service Songza opened an office in Toronto with the goal of getting a head start against its competitors like Spotify and Pandora, two popular international streaming services that aren't yet available in Canada.

Google's arrival in Canada was also stalled by securing royalty agreements with local music organizations.

"It's complicated, so it took some time to hammer out," Levine said.

"But we worked hard together to make it happen."

Google Play Music is already available in 25 other countries, including the U.S. and Mexico.

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The Canadian Press

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