Monday, December 12, 2011

Google Music - A Review

Google Music is one of the latest music service offerings available on the internet. I signed up several months ago as a beta user and have some thoughts to share.

 First of all, I love music. I listen
to an extremely eclectic mix of music. I love classical, blues, folk rock, motown, instrumentals, some R&B, some hard rock, some rap, some country, and a bit of everything else. I have over 10,000 songs on my computer. Listening to music is a hobby for me as much as it is a leisurely activity. So when I heard about a music service that would you store your music collection online and listen to it a will, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

 Google Music works on the premise that you have music on your computer. You upload that music (up to 20,000 songs) to their service and you can listen to your songs anywhere you go. The nice part of this service is that unlike Pandora or some of the other music services, you can listen to the song of your choice when you want to without ads. However, it wouldn't be much fun for those who don't already have a ton of music. To help those people out, Google Music offers roughly 200 songs across various genres to those who start with Google Music. I periodically check their free music to see what else I may be interested in. 

To help with those that love Pandora for the music discovery, there isn't much beyond the free music. It would be nice to see a radio service merged with Google Music, even one with ads. For concept then, I give Google Music 4/5 stars.

 I travel extensively for work. Often I will work out of airports, an office in LA, or anywhere else around the world I happen to be. I don't have a big enough mp3 player to hold all 10,000 songs. Most people don't. It was annoying being in a place and wanting to listen to a song that I didn't happen to have on my mp3 player. Google Music has solved this issue (mostly).

 In order to upload your music to Google Music, you need to install a small application that runs in the background and automatically uploads music to your library. Google Music couldn't upload some of the music that was protected in my iTunes library. This is only some of the music I purchased through the iTunes service. I have since boycotted the iTunes service for this and other reasons. I have invested a decent amount in iTunes over the years, but there are only roughly 10-20 songs that I cannot get from iTunes into Google Music. The upload app can be annoying when rebooting without an internet connection. Instead of just running in the background and waiting for an internet connection, it pops up an error that is difficult to hide. Overall, I give Google Music 4.5/5 stars for installation/implementation.

 The overall appearance and usability of Google Music is OK. I am often annoyed by the lack of some basic music management features, that I've gotten used to in iTunes. Some specific examples include playing all songs that match a search, sorting a list by the order I select, remembering my sort selection between uses, a lack of a "listened to" history playlist, and mass edit functions (when not editing an album). There are also moments when I am unable to change between songs, although this is rare, I must reload the webpage and reselect my songs to get back into my music listening. Overall though, I rate the functionality of Google Music 3/5 stars.  The music management features are where they can improve the most.

When I signed up for Google Music, it was free. They said initially that they were still testing the service and would evaluate the cost when they went live. The service is now live and out of Beta and is still free for the first 20,000 songs, with songs purchased from the Android Market not counting toward that total. For value, I give the service 5/5 stars.

On a whole, I give Google Music 4/5 stars. I haven't touched Pandora since I joined Google Music. This is by far the best free music service I have ever come across.