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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Not sure how I feel about Google's cloud music service

I've had Google Music for a few weeks now, and if I've learned anything it's that it's nice to have a lot of your personal music collection at your fingertips without having to go through that laborious effort of toting about and switching CDs; but at the same time, it's complete drudgery going through the process of uploading all your stuff to the Google Music server.

I don't know about anyone else, but my upload speed is evidently appallingly slow. It's like being on freaking dialup. I currently have nearly 100 albums uploaded to my cloud and it took probably a week to do that. It's absolutely torturous.

If you can put up with the upload speed, or perhaps you have a faster connection than I, the service itself is very nice. It's free to upload 25,000 songs, free to access them as much as you wish (they are yours, after all), and you can do so form anywhere you can get online. Essentially, your music collection travels with you wherever you go, as long as you can access an Internet connection.

The organization of the albums is nice, as well as the ability to make playlists and edit track or album information. You also get the ability to download your music to another device (up to twice only). You get a few sorting options - by track, artist, album, or genre. All in all, for a free servcice, it's hard to complain about. But I will, in the interest of playing the Devil's advocate.

My biggest beef with this service is that the only way to access it is through a web browser. I'm guessing smart phones can access it, but I still live in dumb phone land so I wouldn't know for sure. What would really be nice, as I've said before about free streaming music service Spotify, is if I could access it from a home video game console. My PS3 is hooked up to my home entertainment system and stereo receiver, so it would be cool if I could pump this music library through that system by accessing it on the PS3, like a streaming media server. That would even be worth paying a premium for. I can always route my laptop sound output through the receiver, but that's kind of ghetto to me.

Another complaint I have is that you cannot edit the information about multiple tracks at once. You can edit album information, that's true, but there's no way to, say, select multiple albums and edit the artist information for all of them. Similarly, you do not have the ability from the main sorting screen to do anything with an album other than play it. If you want to add an album to a playlist, you can't do it from that screen; you must first click the album so that you are taken to that specific album's information. Only from there can you add the album to a playlist or edit its ID3 tags. It just seems like they could stand to eliminate a few mouse clicks here or there.

I also wish it would integrate with Facebook or Google+ like Spotify is. It could definitely be more of a social experience, and I'm very surprised that Google hasn't taken this route with it. By adding music and posting your listening preferences, you would be promoting tracks for purchase in the Android store.

I can tell you one other thing about Google Music. Since I signed up I have barely listened to Spotify at all. Then again, I've spent a lot of time editing inaccurate track information too. Sometimes it's right going in but ends up incorrect once it's there.

All in all, I suppose it's worth taking a look at if you're interested.