23
Feb

Google Music launched just 3 months ago, but CNET is already hearing from Google managers and record labels that the company is disappointed by the service's performance so far. In a nutshell: when Google Music launched, there were 200 million Android users, and that number was growing extremely quickly. The expectation was that it would be fairly easy to convert some of those users to Music customers. Unfortunately, that just isn't what's happened, with adoption lower than expected.

According to CNET, those involved with Google Music "aren't panicking"; it's only been 3 months, after all. But more importantly, Google has yet to go full-force with its major music push. With reports of a Google entertainment center right around the corner and the likelihood of some actual marketing behind the product and service, adoption is likely to grow. It's also worth noting that Google Music still doesn't have any tracks from Warner, and there's no word on whether or not a licensing agreement will be reached any time soon.

Personally, I'm not all that surprised with Music's disappointing uptake. Much like many of Google's recent product/service offerings that are still relatively new, the app and service are still mediocre at best. As for the app: it's ugly, missing a few features, still has problems syncing, and music still skips/stutters from time to time, even when it's playing off my class 10 microSD card. With uptake of the service so slow (and consequently, little need for streaming from it), it's no surprise that people turn to alternative solutions, be they built in with a manufacturer UI, from the Market, or included in a custom ROM. The app is akin to a storefront; even if you're selling something good, an ugly, unkempt, dilapidated storefront is going to turn a lot of people away.

Unfortunately, this store isn't selling something good - it's selling something mediocre. The service (and app, for that matter) still have some syncing issues for some users. Occasionally valid songs won't be uploaded for no discernable reason, and other times playlists just stop updating (or don't ever sync to begin with).

Two other factors contribute to the lack of success in my mind: first, Google needs to get Warner on board. Missing one of the big four labels is a big deal, and means people can never really use Music as their sole store. Second, the company needs to throw some marketing behind the service - it's still relatively unknown and unused by non-techies.

Still, despite all the problems facing Google Music, I'm optimistic on its outlook. If Google ever decides to get serious about Google TV and does properly release that entertainment system we've been hearing about (in addition to adding Warner), the problem would likely eventually sort itself out.

Then again, those are two very big ifs.

[Source: CNET via The Verge]

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • OFI

    Probably wouldn't hurt to extend to outside of the US too. But if they are struggling with Warner in the US.. :-/

  • http://mavispuford.tumblr.com Blake

    Another thing that would help is an actual API so other music apps can tap into Google Music's awesomeness. I think that would make it a lot bigger.

  • Scott Kennedy

    There may be 200 million Android users, but only a fraction of those are in the US, which is the only place Music is currently supported.

  • Aaron

    Google basically solved my sole remaining grip with Google Music when they allowed you to export your library en masse and made it play nicely with Google TV. The store is really just icing on the cake compared to having access to my music at home or work without installing new software.

    • John O’Connor

      Google's Music Manager allows you to download your library

  • Sam

    I hope they don't stop Google music completely. I have purchased many albums during the Winter sale :/.

    They should release standalone desktop app.
    Release API for other music players to use( even for a fee?)

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

      Even if they can it, your albums are safe. They are MP3, and you can download them.

  • SHADOW

    It's mediocre at best:
    - not available outside US (market music section)
    - streaming only

    I would love to move my music to it and start buying music from there but being in UK and disliking streaming (not a chance in some areas etc), the service is unusable.
    Make it full offline/downloadable, give full playability access to 3rd party music apps, give us music market and start bringing some music to it, not even many indie composers there anyway. Then we can talk

    • Sam

      What do you mean streaming only??

      You do know you can download and cache the music on the phone for offline play.

      • pat

        but you have to manually pin each song or playlist then wait with your data connection until its downloaded.
        They desperately need to have an option to 'automatically' pin all new songs to a device. Streaming is not always an option. Especially with tablets.

    • James

      Music is fully downloadable..

  • Droidlover

    There's nothing ugly about the music app. It's actually really pretty imo. But I agree about its features/performance.

    They need to expand Google Music to outside the U.S. I'm just waiting to gain access to their store...

  • Lefty

    Agreed! I see google music as still being in a beta stage until they get the big 4 and once they do then the marketing push will start. And the player is definitely cumbersome. I would love to call my google music player my default but it is still lacking some tweaks and accessing my uploaded music is impossible at times.

  • nemolivier

    For me the big issue is that spotify/deezer/grooveshark etc are way much attractive (because much close to the mood of buying habits) than google music.
    I want to just pay 10$ a month and listen to whatever I want. So I stay with spotify.
    (and the spotify android app is a peace of crap, yes, we all wait for something far better).

  • ChrisLH

    I actually like the music app - works great on my Galaxy Nexus. It's much faster (desktop and mobile) than Amazon's MP3 player and I love the side scrolling to different lists - much more convenient. The one thing I wish was easier on the app is to get to the list of music playing from the widget. It seems like I have to click 4 or 5 times just to get to the current playlist.

    That said, I have never bought any music from Google - all of my music purchases come through Amazon MP3 and I expect that to continue.

  • Masarin

    @SHADOW: IIRC there is a offline option so you can have the track locally on your phone/tablet. Not the most easy to find option though.

  • Nick

    You know, with a lot of Google's offerings they don't bother to advertise them other than online and through the market. Google Music might be of interest to many people who have Android phones, if they even knew it existed. Other than cell phone makers and providers Google hasn't caught on to TV and print marketing of key services/devices.

    They haven't even countered the Apple ad that make the iPhone 4s look amazing when it's doing stuff not much different than has been on Android phones since near their release.

  • Ken

    The only problem I've ever seen with Google and its services is the SEVERE lack of advertising. The ads made to market Android devices are made by Verizon, Samsung, etc. and consist of giant fighting robots, or snide condescending remarks to Apple fanboys. If I weren't in love with Google, I wouldn't know about half of the services they offer; my brother (a non-techie) didn't even know what Google+ was until I told him (he thought it was a calculator....). Google needs to get some ads out, and not just on the computer, on TELEVISION. That's where people see ads, and that's what the competition uses. Apple does an incredible job marketing the iPhone, and that's why it is unfortunately the "hip" phone to have. If the same style of marketing (crisp, clean, succinct) were used to describe the Galaxy Nexus, those things would have flown off the shelves because people would see that it is better than the iPhone. But Google likes to sit back and watch the market unfold I guess.

    • Hiram Lester

      I agree they need to do better marketing, but they ARE advertising Google+ on TV. I've actually seen a few of the ads during primetime shows.

    • James

      The Galaxy Nexus ad has just recently started airing in the UK, and it's pretty good.

  • Nick Coad

    I had to trick Google to get into the beta since I'm outside the US and I would love to get into it for real and start making purchases etc but they haven't opened it up outside the US.

    Of course it's not going to take off if a significant portion of the potential userbase is locked out entirely.

    That's not the only reason though - I agree with the syncing comments, and they also need to incorporate some way to manage your library so you can correct tags easily and the tags stay sync'd and so on.

    It's a shame too, because the Google Music web site is far-and-away the single most impressive web app I've ever seen.

  • Craig Rachel

    In landscape mode, I'd say it's one of the best looking apps on Android

  • Kurt

    I like Google Music myself. However, it's got bugs. At first they wouldn't let you download your library; now they will but the one time I tried it it didn't work well. Editing tags is a pain, and I find it hard to believe that El Goog, who after all is sitting on Google Images, couldn't automatically add album art.

    For Music to take off, they need to expand it outside the US. Possibly start up a Google Radio to compete with Spotify & Slacker.

  • James

    They should have made it a streaming service, would have been so much more successful.

    • Darkbotic

      Err, Google Music is a streaming service but also, you can download it.

  • Robert L.

    Using it right now, and everyday at work. Do Not get rid of this completely. I have NO complaints at all.

  • Hiram Lester

    I prefer Google Music over Amazon's Cloud Player. The Google Music app just works on my phone... I have been able to use the Amazon Cloud Player (and would probably use it more often now that they've gone to the darker theme), but 90% of the time it throws an error (either that the file I'm trying to play is corrupted or a network error) regardless of whether I'm on 3G or WiFi. I also prefer the look of the app and larger album art on Google Music. I use landscape mode most of the time (car and desk docks). Amazon typically has better prices and doesn't add tax, but if there's just a few cents difference, I'll buy from Google (and have bought three or four albums).

  • Sam

    Also Google music gives you 20000 song space FREE.

    Amazon you have to pay for anything beyond 5GB

  • Barton

    Google is working on solving this problem. They have recently canceled the 32-gig GSM Nexus that has no expansion option, next they will launch Google Drive (or whatever their cloud storage service will be called) and later the next Nexus with only 8 gigs and again no SD slot. They will simply force users to stream music.

    • Rob

      I really doubt the next Nexus will be below 16 gigs due to data limits from providers. It's a shame that just as Cloud services are becoming popular, data caps are getting worse.

      • Barton

        I doubt it too, but even 16 gigs is way to small for me. I now have a 32 gig card in my Desire Z and it's almost full. I really wanted to buy GNex, but that's a deal breaker for me.

  • Scott Oldfield

    Not having Warner is the single biggest issue in my mind. I use Music and my primary player and go to the Google Music Store first before anyway else (I really want it to take off and I'm not the biggest fan of Amazon), however it's frustrating that it's a crap-shoot as to whether the music you want is being sold by Google. Then I'm stuck with heading to Amazon (blechh).

  • Alex1x

    I love that my entire 2000 collection is on me everywhere.
    (1) UI could be better, (2) when rewinding it starts to rebuffer which kind of sux. (3) Google has so many cool stuff but sux to switch between apps. For example I can buy music and rent movies from the market but not from google tv or youtube.
    Google needs 1 Ultimate app to access youtube, music, movies, market, gmail, docs etc... Why open and close constantly???

  • anon

    This is a joke of an article that just repeats itself with the same complaint over and over. The app is ugly? Seriously? Its one of the best looking apps i have seen! Let me guess, you want it to give you a handy before you will like it huh? Jeez, lighten up.

  • Matt

    I like Google Music well enough on my tablet, but Google has apparently made the app demanding enough that it isn't even listed as compatible with my Android 2.1 phone on the market. Making the app more lightweight and easing up on the version restrictions would widen the potential audience considerably. It's obviously possible, as Amazon has a streaming music app that works quite well on older hardware.

  • William D

    Their artist selection isnt built up, its getting there. They have an abundance of BAD music and BAD albums from major great artists, and none of the good stuff people actually want.
    Song of The Day is more like Song of every 4 Days to A Week.
    Too many "independent" or "unknown" artists in many of the categories that I like "Dance, Electronica, Etc"
    Google Music is pretty much junk.

  • Rob

    Truthfully between iTunes, Amazon Cloud Player and a small app called TuneSync I have little or no need for yet another music service/store/player. Sorry Google. In the case of Music, you're a day late and a dollar short.

  • Freak4Dell

    There's definitely things they could do to make Google Music better. As far as the original storage locker idea goes, they really need to bring out an API so other music players can access it. Their own app could use an overhaul (though I do think it looks good...it just doesn't perform that great), but the API would be a better option, so that users can pick what app they want to use.

    For the store, they definitely need to get more labels on board.

    In general they need to open up the service worldwide. In fact, this might be the biggest need of all.

    If they combined those three things, they'd have a very successful product on their hands. I love Google Music. I stopped putting music on my phone the day after I got into the beta, because there's no way I can fit my entire collection on my phone, and I'd rather not have to buy an expensive SD card to do it. If I did that, I'd just end up having to buy another one down the road when my collection gets bigger. I've got about 8000 songs right now, so I've got another 12000 to go before I fill up my space on Google Music. Personally, I find the storage locker part of it far more enticing than the music store, but to make this successful, they need to work on all aspects.

  • Michael

    I currently stream all of my music now. Google Music would do well outside of the US. At least where I live, we don't have the data caps that are imposed in the States.

    I pay $24 for unlimited interenet. 3G coverage is great and I rarely have problems with Google Music. I've bought the 16G Galaxy Nexus, no music stored on the phone. And my entire music library is in Google Music. I would totally buy songs if I could. For right now. Guess I'll just have to buy CDs, rip, and upload (or pirate).

  • http://www.dipockdas.com DIPOCK

    Repeat the previous comments - do the right thing and open up the API.
    Let the community deliver better apps for the service.
    I stream Google Music everywhere - even from my Google TV.
    The user experience is totally naff.

  • JackMohack

    As a medium tech user it's hard to find the download option for music that you buy from GM, tougher than other music services, which is what turns me off about it. I don't want to wiggle through a maze just to get my music on another device because I can't stream all of the time.

    I want to support Google and all but they could make it more user friendly.

  • Ling

    Google Music+Google TV+Amplifier+speakers. With all of these I don't have to pop in a CD or stream through PC. Moreover, all my CDs are back up on Google Music. I think it is a winner.

  • J-Dog

    My mileage may vary since I haven't used it since early beta stage, but...

    1.) it takes too long to upload large libraries. I have 120+GBs of music, I uploaded for a week & still had the majority of songs left to upload. Rather than uploading each file individually, the uploader should have scanned my library & uploaded a copy of hashes for each file. Then they could have gone through & granted my account access to the corresponding MP3s on Google's server. It would have used a lot less bandwidth. Files that don't have a hash match could be uploaded individually, but if they're drawing from the RIAA's hash list, there shouldn't be too many.

    2.) I noticed a few of my tags were wrong. Blink182, Blink 182 and Blink-182 are three different groups in my account. Having a Shazam/Soundhound service that could automatically fix these issues would be nice. Uploading just the hashes would moot this issue.

    3.) At the time, it was primarily streaming only (though I know they now allow you to download tracks). Living in a rural environment, streaming isn't always the best option, at least on the go.

    4.) Desktop wise its browser only. Granted, going with the Chrome OS ideology, I generally always have a browser open, but I'd prefer a stand-alone app so I don't accidentally close the tab or whatever.

    5.) (most relevant to this article) The albums are a bit pricey (same reason I don't rent videos). I like the all you can eat buffet idea of Spotify (or Netflix). I pay $10 (or $8) a month & I have all the music (or video) I want to watch for the month, rather than buying just one or two new albums (or renting a couple movies).

    6.) no music discovery. I like Pandora (& Spotify's new radio) where I seed a "station" with a song/group I like & it plays related music. And I can customize it by thumb up/down-ing songs. This way I can find new groups I like, or get reminded of songs I've forgotten about over the years that I could add to my play list(s).

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

    The Music app is good enough for most people. However, I bet many people don't have it installed because phones with the old Music app won't get the new app automatically. Even if they have the app, many people don't even know they can purchase and stream songs through Google. A friend of mine bought a RAZR about a month ago, and he had no idea he can stream music from Google.

  • James Bryant

    Let the rest of the world play and you might find more success... Look what happened to the superior Zune services and devices because MSFT never thought to release the devices and services outside of North America...

    No serious audio listener would ever argue that iTunes and iPod were better for music listening than a Zune and Zune software.

  • http://paulbourke.blogspot.com brk3

    The app is ugly?! What the fuck are you smoking.

  • Atrixxxxxx

    I have about 500+ albums from one artist and when your listening to a song then you hit the back button to go to the artist it places you at the beginning or top and not where you last left off... Haveing to re scroll down thru 500+ albums just to get to the album u want sucks.. I wish when you hit back you landed where you last left off.... Collecting concerts would be so much easier to navigate my .02 cents Also open the API :)

  • rushwal

    I can't wait til this service is refined. I have an iPod classic for the mass storage for my music collection. And I have playlists set up so I can cycle through my music without repeats for days. Until I can listen to my music the way I want to, I'll still be carrying around two devices.

    1. Music upload takes way too long.
    2. Music uploaded incorrectly with wrong album names/art and I really don't want to go through every song to fix.
    3. Only thumbs up/down rating system.
    4. No smart playlists.

  • heathroi

    amazon will download the song to the media folder where poweramp finds it and plays it. El Goog just wants me to stream everything from their cloud-cuckoo-land, (reluctantly) downloads to a buried folder and fouls up the tags. also they are a bit late since there are plenty of mp3 sellers now.

  • ChumbleSpuzz

    Of all services that stream my music, Goggle is the only one not blocked by my work. So, I think its great! Just wish I can stream directly, ala Subsonic (which is blocked), instead of having to upload.

    On a side note, is it just me, or does the Google Music Android logo look to be a University of Texas fan?

  • Ray2Jerry

    Here's an obvious one everyone seems to be missing: It's not officially available internationally!! Did they do the math to realize how many Canadian customers have access to iTunes and many other sources of paid music that they are completely missing out on??

    I don't know about the rest of my countrymen but I find myself having a lot more disposable income for apps and music than the economic situation in the US. Tell me, are Americans also spending an average of $30-40 on the Android market a month like I regularly do? They could be, but more of my purchases could be going to buying music too.

    So before they start whining about poor reception of a US only service in their economy they should consider the fact the world market is bigger than Mountain View, California.

    rAy

  • http://miui.us n_i_x

    "and music still skips/stutters from time to time, even when it's playing off my class 10 microSD card."

    Someone needs to explain to the author that SCR's only refer to minimum sustained write performance and have nothing to do read performance. Also, there is no independent body governing claims of SCR so you never even know if you are truly getting a Class 10 card or not. Even so, just because your SD Card is capable of high read rates it doesn't mean your phone is.

    I've never had issues with Google Voice skipping on local content. I'll agree that the app isn't the best and could use some serious UI work, but I find the service quite good. I listen to Google Music all day at work from the website and NEVER have any issues with music skipping.

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