Music Monday: Google Music

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Music found on Google

Google Music is a cloud based music player, where you store all of your music online and play it over your internet connection. It’s currently in beta and I received an invite some three weeks ago.

The first thing you do once you get all signed up is upload music. For the Mac, the installer for Google Music puts a Music Manager into your Preferences and Settings panel. This allows you to pick from your iTunes library or a set of folders where you can add individual locations where your music is stored.

I have well over 100,000 digital songs on my laptop, external hard drives and burned DVDs. There’s no way I wanted to put everything out there. So I picked two folders local to my MacBook Pro. One is called MP3, where all of my miscellaneous songs that I’ve collected over the years reside. Things like B-sides, albums that I’ve had before iTunes existed… stuff like that. Most have album artwork as I’ve been able to locate high-quality versions. The other folder is called ripped, and here are all of the album collections I have downloaded from various sources. Some are full albums, others are compilations that were shared with me. Some of these are waiting to be put into iTunes and converted to M4A files.

I ended up with just under 1500 songs. The time to upload these songs from my laptop to the cloud, from the first click until the last song showed up on Google Music? 13 hours. And that’s just a fraction of all my music. Smart of me to start out with a smaller selection.

There is an Android app available, but no official iPhone app (as of yet). I would imagine that when this goes live, there may be an iOS app for both iPhone and iPad. I’ve not used the Android app, as I don’t have an Android phone (my wife does, but she’s not interested in Google Music clogging up her phone).

playing
Yes, I am fan of Oingo Boingo

So now with all of the music there, I can start listening. It’s easy to play a song. Just find the one you want and double click it. There’s also a shuffle option that will pick and choose random songs. Play quality over a Comcast cable modem connection is nice. Anything slow like a shady wifi connection and you start to get buffering issues that start and stop the song several times a minute. Annoying, but you are playing this online and not locally.

The interface is easy to understand and navigate. As I mentioned above, most of the songs have album art. For those that don’t, it just shows a generic icon (which is a pair of gray headphones). Song and album details are culled from the digital file itself [assuming it contains the meta data and ID3 tags], but there were a couple of MP3s that didn’t have any details and Google Music made it’s best guess on the year and album name.

Storage wise, there doesn’t appear to be a limit on how much you can upload. Looking at all of the details on the Google Music About page, and other places on the web. I may end up uploading more music soon, but I seriously doubt I’ll get anywhere near my complete music collection out there.

Licensing wise, the jury is still out on this one. I can be honest and tell you that a good half of these 1500 songs I’ve uploaded to Google Music are ones that I found online or were copied from others sharing their music. The other half I either purchased or ripped from my own CD collection. So don’t be surprised to see RIAA and the other dinosaur legal freaks climbing the walls about music being uploaded somewhere. For now, the sharks are sleeping.

Do You Need Google Music

So why would someone want all of their music online if you already have an iPhone or iPod? To be honest, I’ve not been able to answer that question for myself, let alone for my readers. I almost always have some type of device with me at all times that plays my music locally. No internet connection needed. But say you didn’t have an iPod large enough to hold all of your music and you were at a friend’s house with a nice speedy internet connection. Just log in to your Google Music page and double click.

Which brings me to the internet connection. Most ISPs and mobile broadband providers have caps on how much data you can use per month. Services like Google Music, Pandora and Amazon Cloud Drive all chew up that precious bandwidth allocation.

So how long before your iPod Classic or nano becomes a dinosaur and you need some type of device to play your music online? Who knows, but I personally hope that day never comes when one replaces the other. Both forms of playing music can live nicely together. And once I figure out a true purpose for a service like Google Music, I’ll be sure to post my usage.

Next: Amazon Cloud Player/Drive

Next week, I’ll cover Amazon’s Cloud Player, which like Google Music, plays over the internet and stores your music online, but with some extra twists.

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