Can you hear the music? Well now it lives in the cloud. This isn’t just talking to angels, a stairway to heaven or any other bad pun you can think of this is real, good old-fashioned music, that you own already, streaming to you anywhere, anytime. The beta is available for sign ups at Music.google.com. And here is how it works. You upload your music to the service, your own songs, and then they become available to your android phone, via a spiffy new app. Or are playable in any browser out there, from anywhere.
Sounds too good to be true? Well for right now the service is free, no word yet on the pricing, and no idea how Google plans to make money off of this but it is astounding the amount of features are available at launch.
Good Stuff: Everything is at your fingertips, literally, your phone has the ability to browse, search and organize your library just as easily as your internet browser does. And there does not seem to be any limit to the number of clients who can access the stuff at once.
The layout you can embiggen on the right is beautiful and smooth. The features just seem to work. The only complaint i have is i kinda like the player stuff to be on the top of the page but after a day or so I’m used to it. click the little arrow next to any song to add it to a playlist, create an instant mix based off this song, or a selection of songs. Overall it is a wonderful service. The desktop client has a version for Mac, PC and Linux! As of yet there is no App for iOS.
Bad Stuff: The streaming playback needs a decent internet connection obviously, so if you are on a metered Data plan, or in an area with poor reception this might not be the best time to surf for music, unless you plan… On your phone you can even mark a playlist as Available offline and your phone will download the playlist to your phone so when your network cuts out you will still be set to go. I love this feature! So Google saw that network connectivity isn’t a guaranteed thing and even built a feature into the software to fix it. And other than the initial setup there isn’t a real bad thing about the service unless you have to yell.
Google Music does integrate with iTunes nicely, even importing all music and playlists directly from your existing library. But if you bought any music from Apple way back when they were the champion of DRM you won’t be able to use that music in anything but iTunes. Yes you can pay Apple 30 cents per song to free your music, for me that would be able $87 dollars to free the 289 songs we have in our library from those dark times when both my wife and I had iPods, gift cards and those wonderful Pepsi giveaways. Yes we could burn each song to a CD and rip the CD back into the library and free them but this is beyond the point. That is just annoying, and would take roughly 41 or 42 CD’s. But all new music you buy from iTunes works quite well in this application.
Time: I have a modest library of over 8,000 songs, not many by some people’s standards but still not a small amount. this took about 4 days of syncing to get all the music up. The good thing is that if you have any music in playlists in iTunes or Windows Media Player they get uploaded first, and as each song is uploaded they are available to play on any device. So yes this is a ton of music and takes a bit to set up, but once its up man alive is it fantastic. And the application on your machine can even keep track of your iTunes and other media libraries to make sure your online library stays in order, and updated.
Family Friendly: My wife is a long suffering WOG, Wife of a Geek. She puts up with a ton of extra steps to do things that should be dead simple, just because I have goofy and geeky gadgets everywhere. Our Main TV in the House has Google TV on it, and as much of a fan of the system as I am she just wants to watch TV and doesn’t understand the need for an extra gadget in her way. The Xbox talks to the PC, there is a file server in the garage, I have Ethernet running in our walls, and constantly fidget with things. If this service touched her music I’d be dead. No bones about it I have a feeling that would be the final straw. She can take the experiments with coffee vodka in the freezer, the goofy gadgets on the TV, she enjoys the home network and being able to print from any room in the house, when it works.
But if I messed with her iTunes Library it would be a bad day for me. The fact that the software works well with iTunes and doesn’t interfere with her ability to buy music and have it on her iPod is a fantastic thing! I can’t wait for the Google Music app for Google TV!
Google Music is going to be huge.