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While Google's been working feverishly to build out its Play Store, bringing it to other countries and expanding its offerings, the company's music store has been lacking one crucial feature that its competitors have: library matching. Where Amazon and iTunes can scan your current collection and add the songs to your online storage, Google has, until recently, required users to upload every individual track manually. A long and tedious process. In mid-November, the scan and match feature came out for Europe, and today it arrives for US residents.

Where Google differs from Amazon and iTunes, however, is that this scanning and matching service will be entirely free. The other companies charge $25 per year for this feature. while, on the whole, it might not seem like much (it's a little over $2 a month), it can be difficult to understand why you have to pay to upload music  you already own.

The reason for that, of course, is because the record labels are choosing not to verify your uploads. The way they see it, these digital locker services could be used to legitimize piracy. Especially since you'll be able to download your songs again from Google later on, and even have high-quality versions streamed from anywhere, if you didn't pay for those tracks to begin with, this makes them legitimate copies. The extra cash flow for scanning and matching is an appeasement tax. They get their money and, in return, won't be sticklers about proving you're not a dirty thief.

According to AllThingsD's sources, Google has opted to simply pay the record labels up front to cover the costs of this service, rather than being charged per user. If this is true, then it's a nice move by the search giant at least, since the company is essentially swallowing the cost of the scan and match feature, but it's no doubt doing this to make Play Music more attractive and to convince more customers to buy music. iTunes is a mainstay in the industry and Amazon's MP3 store has always been a close second. Google has a lot more to gain by attracting new users.

In any case, for those wondering on the details of how Google's scan and match works, your original files can't be uploaded unless the server is unable to find your tracks. If the songs it finds on your machine are of a low bitrate, then that's the best you'll be able to download later. Google won't exchange your 96kbps file for a 320kbps one. It will, however, stream to you at a higher quality.

So, if you haven't already gotten around to uploading your music library, now's the best time to do it!

Update: To clarify some concerns that people are having over re-uploading their collections in order to get the high quality streams, don't worry. You won't have to. Per Google's help files:

"If you’re a longtime Google Play Music user, you don’t need to re-upload your files to have them matched. In the next few months, we'll automatically match what we can of your existing library."

So, sit tight and don't panic.

Source: Google+

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.


    "Google won't exchange your 96kbps file for a 320kbps one. It will, however, stream to you at a higher quality."

    Does this mean that if I upload 128kbps tracks, they'll stay at that bitrate if I were to re-download them to another machine, but all my streaming will be at 320kbps if I choose to stream HQ?

    • Shawn

      Yes it does

      • http://www.jaxidian.org/update teh Jax

        Is there someway to "up-convert" low bitrate tracks to higher bitrates? I know this won't make them sound better but might trick Google into allowing you to download the better-quality tracks later...

        • ERIFNOMI

          You can re-encode them at a higher bitrate. You're going to make them sound worse because you're compressing the already compressed, but it will be at a higher bitrate.

          • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

            Though, if you re-encoded a crappy 96kbps file to 320kbps (with the resulting crap quality), wouldn't that trick the Google Play match service into allowing you to download a proper 320kbps file?

          • ERIFNOMI

            That was my point, yes.

          • http://www.jaxidian.org/update teh Jax

            This is my theory, hence my entire reason for asking this question. It's certainly possible that they could have some algorithm for comparing actual audio quality as well but who knows if they're actually doing something like that. I bet they might *eventually* do that but given that this feature JUST came out, I'd also bet they're not yet doing that.

          • ERIFNOMI

            They're not going through all that trouble, I'm certain.

          • http://www.jaxidian.org/update teh Jax

            Will this then allow me to download Google's "good" higher bitrate copies though?

          • http://twitter.com/BroMonty Joe Montgomery

            I doubt it. If my thinking is correct, when you download, it's just spitting out the file you uploaded right back to you. It only replaces it for streaming.

          • ERIFNOMI

            The article says Google matches your file's bitrate and since you're not actually uploading your files, I'd have to say yes.

        • JG

          A possible snafu would be if Google employs a Shazam like scanner that "listens" to the audio of the file to make the match. If you distort the audio enough trying to go from a lower to higher bitrate, it could possibly read it as not matching anything in Google's database, upload it, and then when you download it, you're stuck with the crappy audio version you created....

  • Jrocker23

    very nice

  • http://twitter.com/RyanDack RyanDack

    This becomes a more interesting development if Google decideds to make a Google Music app for iPhone, as it could push iPhone users deeper into the google ecosystem than they already are. Could make mental jump from iOS to Android easier.

    • anzensepp1987

      Apple would never allow this to happen. They want users to pay for iTunes. No way for an official Google Music app, if you asked me.

      • Alec Winograd

        I don't see how Apple could refuse Google's app. If they allow something like Spotify on surely they'd have to let Google Music too or risk a lawsuit.

        • m_evans10

          A lawsuit on what basis? They reserve the right to reject basically anything for any reason.

          • http://www.facebook.com/hauser.quaid.3 Hauser Quaid

            On what basis was microsoft sued for IE?

          • m_evans10

            I'm sorry, how are these two things at all related?

          • Alec Winograd

            Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer.

            Anti-competitive behavior? Sure Apple as a private company has the right to make their own decisions, but my understanding is they can't deny an app because of who submits it if they let an identical one from another party through.

            At the very least, it would be pretty bad press.

          • Tyrone

            No expert on this subject, but possible the same reason as Google Voice?


          • m_evans10

            They have changed their policy on "no duplicate functionality". They reject apps all the time for no real reason.

      • Thomas F

        Sony also has their music store on the app store, so why not?

    • John Malin

      You can go to music.google.com with your browser and listen to the music

      • http://twitter.com/RyanDack RyanDack

        That web app is INCREDIBLY janky.

        • sdcoiner76

          I have never had any problems with the web app.

          • http://twitter.com/RyanDack RyanDack

            I've experienced it on an iphone and an iPad. It really doesn't work too well. The interface is really small on the iPhone, and on the iPad, it's just blown up huge. That, and intermittent streaming problems make me hope they release an app.

          • Firehawkws7

            I'm sure none of those problems are the iDevice's problems, but google's. /s

          • http://twitter.com/RyanDack RyanDack

            Regardless of who is to blame for the problem, it still doesn't work, and a service that doesn't work wont get used.

  • Alex Flynn

    and if on your Android device you can make it available offline as a higher bitrate, then you can easily export the cache and database if youre root

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1322713647 Andy Rhine

      Some tips on this would be great.

      • ERIFNOMI

        I have a better tip: re-rip your music properly.

  • John O’Connor

    hmmm. and for those of us that have already uploaded thousands of songs, this announcement doesn't help us much.

    I really wish that they would add a feature that will auto-update/correct cover-art. mine has been botched by the various 3rd party music organization apps over the years (and I include iTunes in that botched category as there was a time when the music in your iTunes library came with DRM). The software used to free your music from iTunes and other DRM to play on any of your devices certainly did a number on my album info on quite a few of my songs.

    Better yet, does anyone remember painstakingly ripping all of your music from cd's into your computer back in the day??? There weren't many databases (or much of an internet to speak of) that helped automate the process. At a certain point I gave up and just let the ripper put each album in a different folder.... the rest is history

    • Shawn

      You could always delete your G Music library and re upload?? May be a PITA but worth it you know.

      • Sqube

        This is what I plan on doing.

      • John O’Connor

        Yes, in the end it will be worth it. Definite PITA obviously, especially for those of us who have amassed so much music and have been through many a PITA as digital music came into the mainstream and codecs got better, storage got cheaper. I cant even fathom how many manhours I've put in over the year trying to "manage" my collection only to run into various limitations and hurdles that made me have to start from scratch.

        • Shawn

          I am right there with you and in a few more years there will be a new standard and we will grunt, sigh and start the whole process over.

          • ERIFNOMI

            That's one of the reasons I rip to FLAC. If there is a new standard, I can convert without losses. Much faster than re-ripping.

          • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

            Indeed, and you can reuse the tags from the original FLAC during the transcoding process.

        • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

          I feel ya, man. My library has been amassed over more than a decade and from every conceivable source over the years. I can't even imagine how many hours I've used meticulously managing my collection.

          • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

            I'm still managing it by hand, at least I know I'm the one to blame if I screw up :P

    • Dinofan01


      "If you’re a longtime Google Play Music user, you don’t need to re-upload your files to have them matched. In the next few months, we'll automatically match what we can of your existing library."

    • fonseca898

      I'm just glad I was an early adopter of FLAC. Yeah, I paid a premium for hdd space for years, but it paid off in the long run and I'll never have to re-rip a cd.

      I still use the same file naming scheme I settled on more than a decade ago.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rahulkadukar Rahul Kadukar

    So if someone downloads songs from torrents and asks Google to match it they will then own the songs ?

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregorsmith Gregor Smith

      Thats how iTunes Match works... So i'm told...

    • GreenyO

      Why would someone ask that ?

    • White Pawn

      Yes. That's what Eric means when he says 'these services can be used to legitimize piracy'.

  • Levi Wilcox

    So what should someone who's already uploaded 20,000 tracks do? I would love to have all high quality versions... I guess download the 20k, delete everything, and then start the matching service? Sure sounds like a lot of work to get a couple more kbps...

    • John O’Connor

      Short answer looks to be a yes here.

    • Sqube

      It's tedious, but it's not really going to be work. All you're going to have to do is delete, which is a step. Then tell it to start matching and go make some nachos.

      • Levi Wilcox

        Well... nachos do sound pretty good...

        Here's hoping play counts and ratings transfer over.

    • goldenfootball12

      Google said that they swap out your online storage with 320kbps versions in the future, but for each song I guess there has to be a "history" file on it where it shows what quality the song was uploaded as


      I have a better question: if you're concerned with such things, why did you have low quality music in the first place?

      • Levi Wilcox

        Hey asshat - Hard Drives weren't always cheap. Some of this collection is from when 20 GB hdds were over $175. Some of which, I no longer have the original music to re-rip. So there's the answer to your "better question"... (fucking kids these days)

        • ERIFNOMI

          If you don't have the original anymore, is it legal to own the copy? The legality of it has never been clear to me. But if you're archiving music, which it seems like you are since you lost your originals, you best re-rip everything to an archival format while you still can.

          I commend your use of asshat; it's my favorite insult. "Fucking kids these days" doesn't hold much with me, however.

        • Rex

          You shouldn't be fucking kids, dude.

      • Popo

        I concur. ERIFNOMI = asshat.

    • dshim83


      Wait, essentially. They'll be matching your library over the next few months.

  • Simon Boulet

    What appens to song ripped from music CD? Will they be matched correctly?
    Sorry, I never used a service like that.

    • John O’Connor

      Story of my life

    • bprichard

      It should work just fine as long as you have proper ID3 tags. Depending on the way it's scanning, that might not even be necessary.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SuperElvisfreshlyATT Freshly_Snipes

    No they haven't. I have had this feature for months. This is definitely not new.

    • omegavesko

      Not all countries have had it until now. Where do you live?

    • Brian Walker

      The part that is new is that instead of uploading your songs, they will just mark it as being in your library, and at a higher bitrate.

  • Perry Ahern

    Glad to see this has arrived! Is it using the ID3 tags or sampling the audio? I have so many old ripped songs from my CDs that don't have proper tags and I don't know if this will work properly on them.

  • James
    • Shawn

      This is great news thank you

    • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

      Now I'm wondering if pinned music on my device (for offline listening) will have to be redownloaded to match the copy on Google's server once the change occurs.

  • Bobomo

    I'd trade the subsidized matching service for slightly better prices and sales. I dropped Amazon's store/player app when I lost the promotional 20GB cloud storage, and am now invested in the Google Music infrastructure. I keep cross-checking albums that I find on Amazon and Google is usually 50c higher. Amazon usually has great sales, too. I've purchased a lot of inessential pop music that I'd normally pass up because it was $2-3.

  • Daniel Grossberg

    I don't understand. I feel like I've already been able to do this on my mac, where any new song added to my library automatically gets uploaded to Google play. In fact, that's exactly what happens, so what is new?

    • Brian Walker

      If you have a lower bitrate song, Google will just mark that you have the 320 version instead and skip the upload. It looks at what you have, and just marks it as being in your library.

      • Daniel Grossberg

        Adds to my library instead of uploading....got it, I think.

        • Brian Walker


  • Bradley Ruiz

    now the question is will it work for us folks outside of the us even if we already have a music account :P

  • fixxmyhead

    i dont get it. the title says doesnt require uploading your whole library but at the end of the article it says to upload your library. which is it?

    • Justin W

      It's not uploading anything that Google already has in its library. If it doesn't have your song(s), it will upload those ones only.

      • fixxmyhead

        ok thanks. i wasnt even aware u needed the music manager program. im starting to get it now, just trying out for the first time

    • JG

      I think the end of the article probably should have used something like sync instead of upload... That if you haven't spent hours (or in some cases days) uploading your library already, you have no real excuse not to let Google scan your library, figure out what you have & populate your Music account, and upload only the tracks for which it cannot match...

  • OmniWrench

    Dear Google, If you bring this to Canada I may never have to open iTunes again.

    • Nizzy123

      It's already available in Canada. All you have to do is sign up in the US after that you can use it worldwide. So just use a US proxy to sign up and voila. Google Music in Canada :) After that you can use your Canadian IP to access it. Been using it for months :) Hope I helped.

      • georgeofyourmom

        to follow-up, Google now requires you to put in a Credit Card to set up Google Music, and if it's a Canadian card, it will not work.

        • Nizzy123

          Another alternative is buy a US prepaid $5 credit card. I set up my friend who lives in Peru like that. Still works fine.

  • Shawn S

    Lets be fair uploading music may have been a long process maybe but tedious? Hardly. You just pointed the program to your music directly and let it do its work. I didn't have to interact with it at all during the upload of 10 days worth of music.

  • Kaptain75329

    So does Google scan the music files and ID them, or do you need to have all the ID3 tags filled in the files before attempting upload? This has proven a big headache, and I still don't have all that info typed into the files.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/psycho_maniac_ Jerry Lange

    Now If they could do this to our current library so we have all the info. For some reason on some of the info of my songs didn't transfer correctly.

  • JG

    I'm kind of hoping it'll employ a Shazam like audio-sampling in order to determine matches rather than just reading tags.... Over the years, my attempts to bring some kind of order to the chaos that is my music library have FAILED miserably to varying degrees... According to GMusic I now have, for example, Blink182 with the album "All The Small Things" tracks 1,3, and 7. Blink 182 has an "All The Small Things" album with tracks 2, 5 and 6, and Blink-182 has "All The Small Things" tracks 4, and 9....

    I'd love to be able to just delete everything I've already uploaded (leaving the ones I purchased) & let Google do all the work matching the songs & getting the right tracks. Of course it won't help with the local files but hey as long as they're right on Google....

  • Christopher Iverson

    I have the benefit of having a media center storing all my music and since its low power I will probably blast out my gmusic and reupload everything. It doesn't bother me that it will take a while since I will just leave the machine on. Gonna have to fix those tags though

  • Mick Rikard

    I just want the to stop sorting music by album artist.

  • Nizzy123

    The question I have it does it just check the metatags or does it scan the audio files? I mean what's stopping me from just changing the tag of a random mp3 file and getting the actual song on Google Music?

  • Ximinez

    Will Google force me to listen to the bleeped versions of songs with explicit lyrics, even though I own the un-bleeped versions?

  • logicrulez

    Okay so, some of my files are mp3, flac, aac, alac. Will it scan even the alac files?

  • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

    The only problem I see with that right now is that some of my music is now matched with the system. However, I have the uncensored version of an album
    and Google is matching it with the censored version..

    • John O’Connor

      Eeeek. Match made in hell. I never purchase edited music.