Yesterday afternoon, I was delighted to open my Inbox to find this glorious invitation to join the Google Music beta!  Google Music is a cloud storage locker for music you already own.  You must upload all your music to the Google servers to have Google then stream it back for you at your convenience.  There is not currently a way to purchase music from Google and have it stored in your locker.  The service is currently free, but you are limited to storing 20,000 songs.  I clicked on the “Get Started” button to begin my musical Google journey!

One might argue that Google Music Beta is best for folks with an Android phone and not for iPhone and iPad fanatics like me since there’s no iOS App for Google Music. You can, however, listen to Google music on your computer using a web browser.  You will need an internet connection to listen to the live stream of your own music.

Google offers to seed your music beta account with some free songs.  I don’t think you can add free songs a second time, so click everything if you want right now to gobble up the free music. Choose your genres and Google will do the picking for you:

Since I’m on a Mac, Google Music offered to download their Mac Music Manager to my system to help me upload all my music.

Google even includes steps and screenshots to help you install the Music Manager.

When the Music Manager opens, you are able to start the process of storing your music on the Google servers.

I have a Google Apps account and it is now linked to my Google Music!

I have a local copy of iTunes on my computer, but all my music is stored on a network drive.  I decided to let Google find all my songs via the default settings:

It’s nice to be asked how you want Google to manage your music in the future.

Here are the free songs that were populated by Google for me.  The selection was good.

Playing a song is as easy as clicking on the album cover.

There’s a nice player control system at the bottom of the Google Music browser window.

Music Manager is working hard to find all my iTunes songs on my network drive…

Google Music gave me 78 free songs!  Here’s the list:

Here’s how Google Music integrates with your Google Apps interface:

This is the online Google Music Beta Settings screen:

The Music Manager is done!  It found over 10,000 songs — which doesn’t really help, because if I’m over 20,000 songs I can’t use the service and if I don’t know how many songs Google Music thinks I have, why would I start the upload process and tie up my internet connection forever?  I tried to cancel the upload, but the Music Manger froze my Mac.  I had to do a hard boot to release its grip on my music.

Here’s the local Music Manager settings area.  It added six songs, it seems, to my Google Music account — even though I never agreed to the music upload.

This is the advanced settings screen for Google Music.

With Apple’s iCloud music streaming service soon in the offing, I think I’ll wait awhile to see if I really want to take the time to upload all my songs to Google.  I can live with the free songs for now and I will certainly enjoy watching how the Google Music expands the convenience of our musical tastes in the future.

25 Comments

  1. David,

    Doesn’t iTunes tell you exactly how many songs you have? Google’s player looks… interesting. I think I have way too many songs to use it, unless I specifically choose which artists and albums to upload. Sort of moot since I have no invite! 🙂

    1. Yes, iTunes will tell you how many songs you have — but why won’t Google Music if they plan to limit your songs storage? Is Google Music counting all the iTunes songs or not? Why the vague number?

      I don’t understand the 20,000 song limit for Google Music — if you’re anywhere near that limit you’ll never start the upload process for fear of eventually running out of song space — and I thought Google was all about endless storage?

      1. That’s a kooky dude thing for Google Music to do — so vague! They have a long history of doing kooky dude things, though. I also thought Google was about endless storage… maybe they put that cap there to prevent people from just uploading a million songs?

  2. UPDATE:

    Hmm. I just checked into my Google Music account after working in other windows all day and I found out I now have 1,800 songs uploaded! Huh? How’d that happen? I thought I killed the music uploader. Oh, well. I guess I’ll let this play out and see how long is takes to upload 16,000 songs from my local machine to the Google Music Cloud.

    I’ll report back here as the process flows.

        1. The upload finished this morning sometime around 2:00am. Here are the final totals.

          13,746 songs uploaded.
          962 songs skipped.
          874 skipped because of DRM.
          29 skipped because of unsupported file formats.
          59 skipped because of upload errors.

          I can’t find a way to get my music OUT of Google Music now that it’s uploaded to the Google cloud. I can only stream my own music? I can’t download it for my own local storage?

  3. UPDATE:

    I have a bunch of iTunes Playlists and they were uploaded, but empty on Google Music. So, I deleted all the Playlists one-by-one. Took me an hour.

    Then, the next day, the iTunes Playlists were mysteriously restored on Google Music — and populated with the right songs! Sometimes Google un-does what you do, because they do know better! SMILE!

    1. Oh, and it also seems to take about an hour of waiting for a new iTunes-purchased song to be “discovered” and then automatically uploaded to Google Music. That’s pretty fast and invisible. Nice!

      1. Hmm… none of my Springsteen music uploaded from iTunes to Google Music. Don’t know why. Can’t find a way to force it to upload. Nothing in the error logs. That’s disappointing! Lots of songs lost.

        1. What a difference a day makes! This morning I did a search on Google Music for “Bruce” instead of “Springsteen” and all my Springsteen songs showed up! Lots of lost songs found!

          I just did a search on “Springsteen” and it returned everything “Bruce” did so — excellent!

  4. I noticed you don’t have the ability to download your own music…I thought I could use this as a back-up. No back-up if it stays in the cloud.

    1. The inability to take out the music you “store in your locker” — except to listen to it — is odd. I wonder if the for-pay version will somehow allow the downloading of the music in a non-DRM state?

  5. I think the cloud concept and the need to download the music again are at odds with each other. If the music is always available in the cloud, then why do we need to download? My next question is how do we add access to the cloud on all the devices I want access to my music and do I trust Google to allow my access for the long term?

    1. Tony —

      You ask excellent questions. We’d want to download our cloud music if we add to our virtual music locker without having a local copy. As well, if we ever wanted to leave one cloud for another, we’d need a seamless way to transfer our ownership of our music from one service to another and, right now, the best way to do that is to upload the original digital tracks you own.

      Spotify rent you music — I like that a lot — and there’s no worry about ownership or transferring. When you rent, you go with the best choice of songs, service and price. Easy. You can only listen to your Spotify music on one device at a time, though.

      Your question about Google is telling. What if they start charging me for my 103gigs of music I currently have stored with them? How do I get my music out of there and over to another service with a better pricing plan?

      1. I’m sure you have found this by now but if you’d like to leave the beta and delete all of your music all you need to do is go to setting found in the upper right hand corner, it will take you to a screen that has the option to “Withdraw from the beta”

        1. Right, but what if my only copy of my music is on Google Music — and I want to leave? My only option is to delete my entire library. I have no way to download my library before leaving. At least with Amazon, I can pull out all my music before I cancel.

          1. David, I understand your reasoning of why it would be nice/convenient to have download rights to your music, but that was never Google’s claim… The point of Google’s music cloud is to stream music you currently own. Not re-download it. It’s in their literature. So while it would be nice, it’s not the case. So I certainly wouldn’t discuss it as though it’s somehow a fault. If another service offers that, great. But I’m sure that other service will cost. I think it’s possible Google may add that service in the future as a paid option, but I’m just happy for what it is now.

            And personally, I don’t see why anyone would delete their local copy anyway. I’d rather have a local copy on hand. That would make moving to another cloud so much easier. Just begin uploading. Why wait for hours and hours to download thousands of songs? And why chance losing access to them. It would be foolish to dispose of a local copy of your music.

            Dr. Spooky –

          2. Yes, you make a good point that, in the beta period, Google didn’t intend for downloading music from their service that you have stored in your locker. I suspect that will have to change because of competition from Amazon and Apple’s Music Match. Even Spotify lets you download songs as part of your subscription.