What is Google Music?
I'm trying to understand what Google Music is all about. Why would I want to upload my music to a cloud? And does this mean that I can access any song for free?
Google Music - Online Music Player
Google Music is the search giant's first stab at making your music available to you anywhere, on any device, without the hassles of syncing multiple sources. The service allows you to upload your personal music library to Google servers, then stream songs to a Web browser or any Android-driven mobile device.
It's not iTunes; you cannot buy any music on Google Music. Google has not worked out agreements with any music companies to sell tunes online, as Apple has done so successfully. But it's a start on the "cloud-based" future of music, in which you don't have to worry about where the music files actually are, you don't need to sync your music with a portable device, and you don't have to clog up your device with bulky music files.
To get started with Google Music, go to the Music Beta site and request an invitation to join the service. Then you download the Google Music Manager app and install it on each computer that holds part of your music collection. Next, start uploading your music files to the Google Music vault.
You can upload your entire iTunes library, songs in the Windows My Music folder, or songs in any other folder you care to specify. You can also configure Music Manager to automatically upload new songs added to any source immediately or at specified intervals. Manual uploads are possible at any time.
You can log into a Web-based player at music.google.com. It supports library management, browsing, and playback. It displays music metadata and cover art rather than filenames. You can create and manage playlists, too.
Google Music on Android Devices
To play your cloud-based music collection on an Android device, you will need to download and install the latest Android player from the Android Market; the standard Android player won't do this job. This new player will replace to the old one and becomes the standard for all future versions of Android.
By default, the player shows only the music stored locally on your phone. If you give it permission to access your Google account, your cloud-based music will be shown as well.
In the Settings area, you can configure the player to hide unavailable music; temporarily cache streamed songs to your phone's storage so you can listen to it again while offline; stream music via WiFi only; or download music for offline listening via WiFi only.
Google claims that uploading music that you have purchased under its Google Music model is a perfectly legal example of "fair use," a copyright doctrine that permits buyers of copyright-protected works to make backup copies. Both Apple and the music industry, may have a legal quarrel with that. For now, Google music has pledged to respond to DMCA "takedown" notices and terminate the accounts of "repeat infringers." It remains to be seen how that will play out.
Other Players, If You'll Pardon the Pun
Meanwhile, Amazon also has a dog in the online music race, with Amazon Cloud Player. Unlike Google Music, Amazon does sell music online, hoping to put a dent in Itunes' near-monopoly in the music download business. You can buy music at the Amazon MP3 Store, and save it to the Cloud Drive. You start with 5 GB of free Cloud Drive storage, but if you buy an MP3 album from the Amazon MP3 Store, they'll bump you up to the 20 GB plan for one year at no extra charge. Like Google Music, Amazon Cloud Player will scan your system for music, and optionally upload your iTunes collection to the Cloud Drive. Cloud Player software is available for the Web and Android devices.
Apple is also working on its own cloud-based music locker, sometimes referred to as "iCloud." One advantage is that you won't have to upload gigabytes of your iTunes music, because Apple already has the files and knows which ones you've paid for. Apple has license agreements with three out of the four major music producers, so legal questions are fewer than with Google Music.
Google says that Music Beta is available free "for a limited time," but there's no indication as to if or when they might start charging for the service.
Do you have something to say about cloud-based music services?
Posted by Bob Rankin on 24 May 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What is Google Music? (Posted: 24 May 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved