Google Play unveils its first original podcast series, “City Soundtracks”

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Google Play is adding its first original podcast series, called “City Soundtracks,” to its music service, Google announced this morning. The series will feature interviews with various musicians about how their hometowns influenced their work, including the people and the moments that had an impact.

The podcasts will be hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway – a name that may already be familiar to podcast listeners thanks to his other involvements in this space, including with the “The West Wing Weekly,” which discusses the TV show, and “Song Exploder,” where musicians take apart their songs piece-by-piece.

“City Soundtracks” will be a mix of both conversation and music, says Google. The episodes themselves are fairly short so far – with the longest one being just over 15 minutes.

In addition, Google has come up with an interesting way to connect its new original series to the other music offered on Google Play. Each episode of “City Soundtracks” will be paired with a playlist created by the podcast’s guest – turning the listening experience into one of music discovery, as well.

The first few episodes of “City Soundtracks” are available now, featuring chats with Kehlani, Big Freedia, and Spoon, who will discuss the cities of Oakland, New Orleans, and Austin, respectively.

Google’s entry into original content comes at a time when the top streaming music services are trying to differentiate themselves by introducing their own exclusive content to complement their music libraries, podcasts, and video content.

For example, Spotify just last month announced several new originals podcasts which focus on topics like music’s intersection with pop culture, music festivals, and the makings of top hip hop stars. Plus, the company had previously stepped into original content last year with a dozen music-themed video series, some of which were better than others.

Meanwhile, Apple has been developing its own original shows to complement Apple Music. It bought the rights to “Carpool Karaoke,” and it’s behind the Shark Tank-like reality program, “Planet of the Apps.” Apple is also reportedly working on a scripted original drama, Dr. Dre’s “Vital Signs.”

These efforts are meant to entice consumers to the service in question by offering them content they couldn’t get anywhere else. That’s not quite the case with Google Play’s new series, however – anyone can listen to the show, provided they’re signed in with their Google account. Instead, this feels more like Google testing the waters with original content, instead of a larger effort to compete with streaming rivals.

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