15
May
play music logo

At the start of this review, I was simultaneously excited and frustrated. Now I'm just plain excited. For a bit of context, I have been bouncing between cloud music services since Lala was still a thing. I had one simple desire: I wanted to pay a monthly fee for unfettered access to a large library of content, but still wanted to be able to bring my own. I know that $10/month is not going to get me every song in existence, but if I can pay for most music, and then supply the rest, I'll be happy. Today, Google finally gave me what I wanted and, make no mistake, this is the model that other apps are going to follow for a long time to come. In fact, I'd be in a state of perpetual euphoria if the app itself weren't so obtuse as you're first moving in.

Let's start with the basic set up, though. Because this is a model that, despite our collective déjà vu, we have not seen before (or at least that isn't available right now).

All Your Music Available Everywhere - Yes, All

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Those of you who keep up with ancient products that no one uses anymore may remember that Google made waves a couple years ago when it announced a digital locker service. The company allowed you to upload your collection (with a cap of 20,000 songs) and access them anywhere. You could use the web player or Android apps and either stream or download your tracks.

Later on, Google added the ability to buy tracks individually. This was almost a carbon copy of iTunes and, for that reason, it didn't do so well. Why buy from this new store when you can use the store  you've been buying tracks from for years? Also, who buys individual tracks anymore? (Okay, quite a lot of people, but that's beside the point.)

Now, Google announces a subscription service. The refrain across the tech sphere is that Google just copied Spotify and there's no reason to use this over any other all-you-can-listen service. Technically, yes, the new features Google announced today are the same as what has already existed. There's just one key distinction. The new subscription service is combined with the other features. In other words, you can now pay for a subscription, buy individual tracks, or upload your own, and then listen to them all in the same app. No matter what your preferred method for listening to music is, Play Music has you taken care of.

This is not something that is available on other platforms. Rdio does not allow you to upload your personal music collection at all. Spotify will recognize local tracks on your computer and you can play them on other devices if you want, but you first have to download each track in its entirety to whatever handset you're listening on. Oh, and if you're using the web player, forget about it. This can kinda work, but it's not an ideal solution.

Play Music is literally everything. Pay $9.99 a month (or $7.99 if you sign up before June 30th) and you get unfettered access to millions of songs. If the songs you want aren't part of that collection (or you want to keep certain tracks after you stop paying), you can shop for more on the Play Store. If you want to buy tracks from another company (maybe Amazon is cheaper?) you can do that and then upload them to the cloud. No matter how you get your songs, though, you can access them on your phone, tablet, or desktop for streaming or local playback (desktop local playback is limited to uploaded/purchased tracks).

So, it's the Swiss Army Knife of music services. Great. How good is the software, though?

It Took A While, But Eventually I Loved This App

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Before I begin, a disclaimer: when Play Music first went live, there were offers to add a bunch of free music to your account. Hundreds of tracks in fact. I accepted because I will click on free things faster than most of you will click on a link that says adorable kitten resting on hot nerd boobs. Much like those of you that are easily tempted to click links, I regretted my decision. Combined with the collection of music that had been sitting on my hard drive since high school that I also uploaded, I had a lot of house cleaning to do. This caused a lot of frustration that you probably won't share, so I'll skip that part. However, if you have a bunch of junk in your Play Music account, chances are you'll be scrambling for a reset button.

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However, the problems I had with navigation continued despite the extensive job I did cleaning up my collection. For starters, the My Library section is of questionable utility. Your music is sorted into four sections: Artists, Albums, Songs, and Genres. Artists and Albums are sorted alphabetically which makes it easy enough to scroll to find a particular piece of content. This is nice! However, because the interface uses such huge cards, large libraries would require a lot of scrolling to find anything. In most cases, you'd be better off searching. Ironically, the Songs tab is a straight list, which is even more scrolling. If this is your primary method of browsing music, then you're a masochist which, you know, is cool, but damn man. Maybe start slow with some piercing suspensions or something.

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One or two albums for most genres, a bunch in Pop. Efficient categorization!

Oh and Genres is the most useless section. It organizes your music using a fancy algorithm, then prints those results out on paper, runs that paper through a shredder, shoots the shreds out of a leaf-blower, fires a shotgun at the flurry of scraps, collects whatever dust remains, and scans that pile of paper bits back into the computer. To be fair, this is how the "genre" classification has functioned since the dawn of time, so Google isn't straying too far from the norm here.

Listen Now fixes the problem of browsing your own library by showing you an algorithm-fueled array of music suggestions. Like a lot of Google's cards lately, each suggestion is accompanied with a reason why you're being shown this result. The downside to this section is that you're not going to discover much that's new. To be fair, there is a separate "Explore" tab that's designed to get you new content, but your Listen Now section does include one or two recommendations that aren't part of your library. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like there's room for a bit more. Not a lot, but maybe one suggestion per row.

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The Explore tab is where you will want to go when you're looking for something new and need guidance from the Almighty Suggestion Engine. You'd be forgiven for being unable to distinguish this section from the Play Store. Nearly all the same categories are present. Top Albums, Recommendations, Genres, etc. The primary distinction between this and the Play Store is that you'll only see music that is accessible either via the subscription or your personal collection. It actually doesn't look like it's possible to buy individual tracks or albums without leaving Play Music altogether on the web. Within the Android app, a "Buy" option is available via the drop down menu, but you can play all the music you see without paying an extra dime.

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Finally, the Radio tab is almost entirely useless until you add your own Radio stations. This isn't hard. There's a "Start Radio" button attached to every song and album in the service. This looks like a neat place to return to particular themed radios later on, but when you first get started, it's a barren wasteland.

The Golden Playlists

Playlists are, for my uses at least, a lovely safe-haven from the somewhat scattershot organization features. To be fair, I've been on Spotify for a long time, so I may simply be trained to think that way. However, from that perspective, playlists are great. You can create a set that includes music you've uploaded mixed together with subscription music in a seamless continuum. Not only that, but you can share playlists with a link or on Google+. At the moment, it looks like only users in the US can see shared playlists, regardless of where the tracks originated, however with the general bugginess of Google products today that comes from launching a million new services, we can't quite tell if this is by design or by error.

Here's why I'm willing to forgive all the problems I've seen so far, though. The less-than-innovative browsing design, the lengthy clean-up process, the confusion over whether a particular track is one I bought, uploaded, or subscribed to. I'm willing to forgive it all because of this:

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In this playlist, there is music that I acquired via a subscription, music I purchased on the Play Store, and music I got on Amazon and then uploaded directly. Can you tell which is which? Neither can I. Nor can the music player. If I set this to play through, I won't get stopped if it comes to a track that Google didn't get explicit permission from Sony to play. I won't be forced to download only most of a playlist locally. You can accomplish something similar with any album or song in your subscription. Just click "Add to My Library" and it will be added to your collection, completely indistinguishable from what you've uploaded yourself.

Ironically, this is the feature I love and hate the most. I think Google would do well to give you an option to show which songs are ones you own and which ones you are merely renting. 99% of the time, I won't need to know or care about that. However, when I'm cleaning up my library, it would be extremely handy. There are other small issues that would be great if Google could fix up. However, for most regular usage, this is great.

Alright, Google, You Might Just Have Me

The one thing I've found in years of testing and comparing music services is that nothing really fits everyone's usage patterns. There is almost no situation or device you can't listen to music in or on now. As a result, people make up their own usage patterns (as opposed to say, watching a movie at a theater, where the experience is more or less defined for you). For my use cases, though, I've tried Rdio, MOG, Grooveshark, Rhapsody, Lala, Pandora, Last.fm, and virtually every other service under the sun, living or dead. I finally settled on Spotify, but I never could escape the idea that my listening habits were limited by whatever Spotify was able to license. This is not the case with Play Music.

I'll be keeping this subscription for now. It will be a long and arduous task to manually transfer all of my Spotify playlists over to a new service, so both will be used in parallel for a bit, but barring any massive unforeseen problems, I can see myself being happy with just Play Music. It's not perfect, but the promise of being able to manage absolutely any songs I want in one app is appealing.

That being said, on a broader level, Google has a lot to prove right now. Spotify, Rdio and their ilk are on far more platforms  and in far more countries than Google is. This is a problem that the company is aware of. Speaking to The Verge, Google Play lead product manager Paul Joyce said, "I don't think it should be a requirement that people have a specific piece of hardware to use our service." The implication here is that Google doesn't want to keep Play Music siloed on Android. This is good news because only offering this product on one platform in one country is a death sentence.

That would be a terrible shame, too. No one else offers this model right now. The store/subscription/storage model has not been achieved yet anywhere else. This is the first and now the bar has been set. Amazon has a cloud locker, Spotify has a subscription, and iTunes has a store, but Google now has all of them combined. The other companies actually have a bit of a grace period in that Play Music is on a very limited release. In time, though, this is the model we'll all want from whatever company we use: the ability to listen to as much music as we want, no matter the source, on any device, at all times.

The race is on.

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.

  • Metallinatus

    I liked the new design, but.... no carrousel =(

    • Mark Terry II

      And what does carousel do?

      • Metallinatus

        It was just a feature that I liked and didn't need to be wiped out .-.

  • http://darmfield.com/ dawn m. armfield

    I've been using playlists and the instant mix on Google Music since it came out. To me, that's what has made it my go-to service. Now, with streaming, I'm excited to integrate even more versatility into the mixes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sabrina.long1 Sabrina Long

    I've the idea of all of my music that I upload onto Play Music being available anytime...from anywhere. I listen to my playlists during my commutes daily (on my Android), and tweak my playlists at night and on the weekends (on my computer). I only wish for a nicer Android app for it (customizable and easier to navigate on the fly).

    • ERIFNOMI

      Have you used the new Play Music app for Android yet? It's VERY nice, very slick, and much nicer to navigate than the last version.

      • Eric

        This is just what i was waiting for. Two things first is there a way to just download one song for offline playback instead of the whole album. The second thing google please make it where we can download on external sd card.

  • QwietStorm

    First, I just want to say the new app UI made me want to run outside and pick flowers and feed stray animals. But a sort of off topic question: does anyone know how to get around the desktop music manager refusing to connect to the service at startup?

    • http://www.facebook.com/sabrina.long1 Sabrina Long

      Yeah, I have to sometimes close it and reopen it after I've added fresh music to my folder. :/

    • MasterMuffin

      That means it was good, right? :D It certainly is better than the old one!

  • Kurt Wurmser

    I just started the trial. It'll take some getting used to...but yeah, this is definitely the way to go. The 7.99/mo early adopter is just a bonus. This may sound noobish, but does the subscription model mean I can take a song from the radio part and download a local copy? How does that work?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      You'd have to add a song to your library or a playlist first, but yes any song that you can listen to via the subscription can be downloaded for local, offline playback.

      • jordanjay29

        Hmm, the studios might not be happy about that. What prevents me from adding all the songs I want to my library/playlist, then storing them for offline playback, downloading them from my Android and putting them on my computer again to upload to Google Music.

        Then I can cancel my subscription and have all the music I wanted for just $8.

        • CharlesKGim

          You wont be downloading them in a format that you can use ala mp3. They are not stupid. The minute you cancel your subscription you lose access to all that you did not upload or buy.

          • http://twitter.com/RaspberryDuff Matt

            Actually I just checked the storage location and they are being downloaded in MP3 format. Except they're pretty heavily DRM'd somehow...even MediaInfo gives me nothing. I've tried playing it by moving the files to a different location on Android, onto my computer, and nothing will play the file. I'm sure there are DRM strippers (or some will be made) to get rid of that, but I wouldn't know how.

          • John Malin

            Google music files do get downloaded as an MP3, but usually into the /data/app partition on your phone and as a number with to id3 type tag on it, so finding the exact song, fixing the name an tag, then reuploading would be a pain.

            I'm sure people will do it, but most android users probably are now power users that will want to go through all that.

        • http://www.facebook.com/seangt Sean Thomas

          you really don't download the tracks. You can only "pin" them for offline listening in the app, and not on the web.

          • https://www.facebook.com/MusicalWolf Todd Wolf

            This comment makes little sense, I'm sorry. If the song is not on your phone, then you stream it. If you have no data connection, you cannot stream. So you make the song/s available for offline playback. Your phone tells you it is downloading the music in your notification drawer. The files are stored in the hidden data partition in Android. Duh.

      • http://twitter.com/RaspberryDuff Matt

        Also, will the $7.99 early adopter price work if you decide to cancel at some point, or are you then put back onto the $9.99 price point if you choose to subscribe again?

        • Sam

          You will be put into the 9.99 price point.

          • http://twitter.com/RaspberryDuff Matt

            Damn, well I guess I have a month to determine whether I'm sticking with it.

      • Kurt Wurmser

        Thanks. I'll be keeping it then.

      • http://www.facebook.com/seangt Sean Thomas

        but really, not on the web. I think that's what he means. On the web you could always re-download anything you uploaded or bought via the store to store locally on your computer. When you simply add a song to your library from All Access that option is not available. You can still pin it for offline listening on android however.

    • http://www.facebook.com/seangt Sean Thomas

      just checked on the web. music I uploaded has a "Download" option in the menu drop down, wasn't there for a song I added to my library from All Access. You can pin songs from All Access for offline listening in the app though.

      • Kurt Wurmser

        If it can be pinned and downloaded to an Android device, it's just a matter of finding out where on the device it's downloaded to, right? Google Music downloads to a non-intuitively-named location, but it's just a matter of finding it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/seangt Sean Thomas

          I mean, it's part of the app data like all of the downloaded tracks, but there's probably...some sort of DRM? They have to at least mark them as All Access files so they can be deleted when you unsubscribe. Someone should figure this out.

        • ERIFNOMI

          No. There's undoubtedly more DRM than just hiding it. It's going to require an accompaning license to play, which will surely expire after a certain time, or something similar.

          • Jaymoon

            You can get to the actual files (on a rooted device) in: /data/data/com.google.android.music/files

            But they are worthless outside of the Play Music app. They are encoded in some strange way. I tried various applications on my PC to open/play/convert them, and they all fail with various "unsupported file type" errors.

            So they are DRM'd. Or at least in some proprietary audio format only Play Music can decode. Which means as soon as the subscription is killed, the ability to play these files is too.

          • http://twitter.com/RaspberryDuff Matt

            Yeah, they're still saved as *.mp3 so I'm assuming they're just DRM'd MP3s. Songs that you own and copy from the files location still play fine wherever you want, so it's pretty clearly DRM specifically for the All Access files.

          • michalisTT

            seriously?
            even if you could strip the DRM...why go into all that trouble just to pirate a song...you can pirate music pretty easily you know.

    • NA

      Pretty sure you can stream it on any device but probably no local downloading. It might even cache to your phone but my guess is when you cancel the subscription, those songs disappear.

  • http://twitter.com/aomia syler

    To me it's just like spotify only slight difference but so far so good I like it I just canceled my spotify and I will give it a go for awhile

  • Wazzifer

    The only problem I have with Google Music (I've been a power user since the first batch of invites) is the fact that their genres and artists are a cluster phuk. As an example, if you go to the Metal genre and then pick Industrial as the sub genre, you won't be getting bands like Skinny Puppy and KMFDM, even though their albums are available for streaming and purchasing. Oh well. I'm really happy about this new service. Goodbye Spotify.

  • http://twitter.com/RaspberryDuff Matt

    The only thing I'm missing right now (after signing up for the All Access trial) is the ability to "Start Radio" for songs only in My Library. That's largely due to the interoperation between My Library and the All Access that was mentioned in the article, but often I want to listen to other songs that I've personally uploaded but that are in a similar style to what I'm listening to. Now it includes everything in all of Google Music. Sure, it's a cool way to discover new music you may not have heard before, but it lost some personalization IMO.

    • http://www.facebook.com/seangt Sean Thomas

      you could always do that, and you still can? At least for me. You just have to go from the drop-down for an individual song and click "Start radio" and it'll be filled with tracks from your owned library. Only your owned library actually. For All Access tracks it's only streaming tracks. Okay I see what you mean lol. That's weird. THey treat tracks you add to your library as all of you rother tracks but don't include them in radio. I guess it's a good way to tell which you own. But yeah. Should be a mix.

      • http://twitter.com/RaspberryDuff Matt

        I just did that and I'm getting the exact opposite. I select "Start Radio" and the playlist gets filled with a bunch of songs I've never heard of, even if I select it from within my own library. It just mixes in everything. This is from the app btw, not sure if it's different in the browser.

        • http://www.facebook.com/seangt Sean Thomas

          ahh. I havent tried it in the app yet. Just did, same results for me. I wonder what the difference is?? This is supremely confusing.

  • Lupe Fiasco

    The new app is really really good, but there are some things that I don't understand.

    1. Why is it that you can't purchase the All Access subscription from your play store balance but you can purchase the All Access subscription if you redeem a play store gift card?

    2. Why, why, why does the album artwork move on the now playing screen???? That does not many any sense to me at all, very annoying.

    The app is good overall but I feel that it was rushed due to I/O being today and the fact that they were given the OK from labels yesterday for their streaming service.

    • ERIFNOMI

      I like the moving album art. Reminds me of the Zune HD days...

    • Justin Winker

      It might seem rushed, but you have to remember, they've probably been working on this app for months. It may just be that the negotiations took longer then they expected, but I don't think it was rushed. I think it was very well done.

      I like the moving album art. It's like a visualizer on the desktop app - you can click on the album art in the bottom right corner, make the browser full screen and have an album-art visualizer that looks pretty good.

      • Kevin Aaronson

        Completely agree. One of the few times (aside from the crashes i have been getting) a google app update has felt like Christmas.

    • Kevin Aaronson

      1 are you sure you can redeem from a google play card? I know for a fact neither that nor play credit can be redeemed for any type of subscription. But that is great news if cards are accepted, thanks for the info.
      2 that sultry scroll along a zoomed in album cover is the sexiest thing about the new update. But that is purely my opinion (which is fogged by this incredible new update)

      • http://twitter.com/StuartKBrown Stuart Brown

        Is the subscription currently limited only to US customers?

        • michalisTT

          you can get around it with a virtual credit card and a one-off connection via proxy on the start of the subscription...but yeah US only :)

    • FrillArtist

      I actually like the moving artwork. It's very cool as opposed to a still image which is just boring.

    • Nadora

      I like the moving album art. It's like having an ever changing live wallpaper/screensaver. :)

  • efan

    is it just me or is the web player laggy as hell?

    • Zach Lunn

      try the HTML 5 version. it's in Music Labs under settings :)

    • quick

      In the settings there is an option to use an HTML5 version of the player, if its unchecked try checking it and see if its any better.

      If it's already checked try reverting back to the flash based version by unchecking it.

  • VoiceofSky

    the UI is stunning and the features are ok but definitely an awesome start ,not enough for me to Cancel my Spotify premium sub yet , but i'm hoping it will soon. :)

  • http://www.evilnolo.com NOlo Tse

    As I said in other thread, it doesnt work for me. It crashes after 10 seconds of starting it. It crashes even when it is not open. I have tried wiping cache, dalvik and wiping the data from the app. I have also tried reinstalling it. Anyone has the same happen to you? Its the top comment in the play store also, so I guess the app is definetly not working for some of us. Im on N4 with PA.

    • Evan Fleming

      I'm experiencing the same thing, but on a VZW Note 2. I've even flashed from a Touchwiz based ROM to an AOSP one, but it still crashes. Pretty unhappy that I've already started my trial and the damn thing won't even work. Why can't I use this gorgeous new app?

      • http://www.evilnolo.com NOlo Tse

        I dont really know it is kind of weird, and i havent found any info about it yet. It is as if the app has a timer and after a set amount of time it crashes. It Allows me to go as far as browsing my music, then it crashes.

        Are you using some kind of syncing app? Like iSyncr to port your playlist from iTunes? Thats the only particular I can think of.

  • Jona

    Trying to subscribe to all access in Australia I get server error. try again later. What's up with that?

    P.S. I love Google Play ever since I accessed it via a VPN to get it here in Aus months before it was available.

  • Chris

    still gona stick with slacker. shame it doesn't get much love. its all that spotify crap. Why support the Swedish economy?

    • Owen Finn

      I love Slacker - except for the Progressive Insurance ads...

    • Goo Smoo

      I don't use Slacker due to the lower sound quality, and I know I'm not the only one. It's one of the biggest complaints people have about the service.

  • Brian Bentsen

    I have never wanted to be American so much. Come to my country, Google Music, you'll make a decent ... $1000... probably.

    • Jona

      VPN mate. Use tunnelbear or something. That's how I accessed it in Australia well before it was released here.

      • Brian Bentsen

        Last time I tried that I got stuck at the step where you have to add the US address of your credit card :o)

        They bricked that hole shut.

        • Jona

          Ah fair enough. I never had to enter any credit card details...

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    It's almost the perfect music service for me. There is still one thing I want, though: I listen to more than US music. I hope (or, wish) that future improvement include making songs from other countries available. Personally, I listen to songs from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan. I have a feeling that when the subscription is opened to other countries, they will be a walled garden, meaning an user may only have access to songs released in his own country.

  • mechapathy

    The new web app looks really nice, as does the Android redesign. But the card design language that was all over every Google product shown at I/O today (hey, consistency is nice) doesn't really work for the Artist list-view. I hope they change that or give the option to do so in the settings.

  • Michael Rudling

    Does Google have user selectable tags particularly for streaming? Much of my listening is classical music where I wish to know composition name, composer, orchestra, conductor and soloist/s.

    • Dan MacDuff

      I read all of the "comments" and yours was the only one that dealt with my questions. In response to your concerns about metadata on classical albums and tracks, I have ripped a ton of classical music and most of the metadata is useless. The classical labels just don't pay much attention to anything other than the music. If you want accurate and useful metadata, you have to put it in yourself. Also, if you allow music programs to try to organize your collection, you will end up with useless spaghetti. Good luck.

  • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

    I loved the app. I was using Bubble UPnP to listen to music (even local files). I'm completely sold on Google Music now.

  • southernfanboy26

    I LOVE Android and almost everything GOOGLE does, but with windows 8 you have Xbox Music which does the same thing for free. If you wanna stream through your xbox or windows phone you pay $10, but as a college student who take his computer everywhere on campus and have wifi in my apartment what benefit is there to use Google Play Music All Access as opposed to Xbox Music

    • FrillArtist

      Firstly, I much prefer listening to music on my phone as opposed to my laptop. Secondly, there's no Xbox music app on Android. Thirdly, the name Xbox music just sounds stupid considering it's not only for Xbox. Should have just called it Microsoft music or kept the Zune name or something.

  • Kevin Aaronson

    Bravo! A ginger singing never give up! (I refuse to believe that is rick astley, my minds eye says he is a hung smooth black devil who conquers white women).

  • http://twitter.com/jercubsfan Jeremy Olson

    IMPORTANT QUESTION: Can I pay for my "monthly fee" using a Google Play gift card?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cymagen/70189322511 Cymagen

    Google has less passion for music than Spotify or Grooveshark... They are number and data crunchers/organizers. What I really like about Spotify is you know they are music lovers. Also the suggested artists and radio features are great, I have found so much good music through there.

  • Could be Anyone

    Still no international artists and only limited to the same boring mainstream american stuff.

    • http://twitter.com/Zlatty Z

      There are plenty of international artists. Plan B, The Streets, Amon Amarth...and so on

      • Could be Anyone

        Try searching for anyting from Thailand, India, China, Japan or Korea and you'll see its not international if they don't include anything NOT in english.

        • Nevi_me

          I assume they'll get there when they start making their service available in more countries, which probably depends on getting more content providers on board. I'm certainly not looking for some random album from South Africa on there, so I'll stick to the American stuff as it's what I listen to most of.
          Sure beats the irony of me trolling on iThings but praising iTunes, tired of being a hypocrite, phew!

          • Could be Anyone

            If your haven't even used it and then just automatically judge it then your a hypocrite otherwise if you did try it and it was disappointing then you are in full right to criticise it.

            Your free to listen to whatever music you want no one is stopping you but some of us aren't as closed minded and want to listen to stuff that is from other places not just America.

          • Nevi_me

            It's an open secret that Play Music can be used by anyone in the world. I live in South Africa, and have been using All Acc ess for 2 days. When I joined I wasn't expecting to see music from every single artist I can think of, because Google haven't come to agreements with all those artists' publishers. The service isn't even a week old, so I'm not being closed minded but I'm being realistic. I won't run and complain that South African or even Indian content is not there because I am aware that for a service limited to one country, goggle priorities would have been making the thing available.

            people who listen to things that aren't in All Access, maybe Let's complain in a few months if there's no progress. It took iTunes years for them to have availability in most of the world. Let's not call the baby ugly while it's just being born.

          • Could be Anyone

            My expectations of it was low to begin with but I never thought it would be as low as when I tried it which showed the only Japanesetracks are the ones I have on my own memory card which to me was more disappointing then searching andnot finding anything to begin with. I'll probably try again in a few months but after knowing other services don't have it in not optimistic about it.

    • Andy Stetson

      Already found plenty of Korean and Japanese music on there as well.

      • Could be Anyone

        Really because I searched for artists like Mizuki Nana and Tamura Yukari and got nothing.

        • Andy Stetson

          I didn't say that it had everything... Or maybe it was just Korean stuff that i saw, G.NA, T-ARA, SNSD, Girls Day...

          • Could be Anyone

            That was Korean and not all of it either just the ones that they think will appeal to westerners.

          • Nevi_me

            Or maybe they haven't gotten licensing agreements with the relevant publishers. I don't see someone at Google going through millions of songs guessing which to exclude.
            From the piracygate scandals, we should all now know that the likes of Sony/BMG are the large music providers, but there are also other big and smaller players. From my understanding, not all publishers are on board, so music from some artists might not be available

          • Could be Anyone

            The problem isthat even Spotify had those licenses so the chance google has to get it is quite low but I keep my current expectation of any online music streaming service since I listen to music from a lot of different countries and they advertise as agood to keeping it on the phones memory iI expect it to cater to all types of music not just some.

          • Nevi_me

            Let's reach concensus and say that if Google still doesn't have those licenses in 6 months then we can be vocally critical without reservation.
            Apple has been trying to bring the 'iRadio' and it's taking a while because of reported disagreements with the very licensing providers, so I don't think it's that easy.

            I guess another question is how long it took Spotify and others to get all the licenses that they have, I don't really know, but my opinion's that if Google weren't planning on announcing All Access at I/O they'd probably have waited to get more agreements before launching. Remember that as per the Wall Street Journal, Google secured the agreements at the 11th hour

  • Rick Fisher

    i just want sonos support...so badly. I'd love to ditch other music services for this, but my home is in the sonosverse

  • Freak4Dell

    I love the new app. It's smoother and it looks way better than the old one. My biggest complaint about it is that they seem to have removed the ability to "Shuffle All" from any of the classifications. It's only in Songs now. I liked being able to just open the app and hit that to start playing music. It's not a big deal to have to swipe over to Songs, though.

    They fixed a lot of bugs, a big one being the linkage of unknown albums to an artist. I have a lot of music that I haven't gotten around to adding album names to, and the old app would group all of these into one giant list. If I chose an artist, then chose Unknown Album to choose one of their songs to play, it would present me with a list with hundreds of songs from other artists that are listed as unknown album, too. The new app only shows songs from the artist I chose from the Artists pane.

    The swipe controls for next song and previous song are awesome. The swipe controls for the rest of the app are awesome. Being able to go from Now Playing to whatever screen I was on before by simply swiping up and down is extremely convenient. I'm not really bothered by the card layout thing. My phone shows 8 artists with the card layout (okay, fine, half of the last row is cut off, but I can still see pictures), and with the list, I'd maybe see 10. It's not a huge loss. I also think it's easier to find an artist now. Before, even in the non-list layout, it would just show album art from that artist. Now, Google uses pictures from their database, usually of the artist themselves. Makes it easier to pick out an artist, I think. Overall, the new app is wonderful. I may actually be able to start using this as my primary music app now, since it's not riddled with bugs anymore.

  • Jack

    This is a terrible idea completely ripping off consumers. Why would anyone pay a monthly charge when you can store your music for free on an sd or hard drive and stream music for free any time you want for free from literally thousands of sources and also buy tracks or albums from anywhere you want. To limit yourselve to one service which you pay a premium for is totally bonkers. Only an idiot or fanboy would use this.

    • FrillArtist

      So you store MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of songs on your sd card???

    • Goo Smoo

      Either you are trolling, or you've never tried any premium streaming music services before, or you are a devoted fan of one of Google's competitors (or a combination of the three).

  • Slighter

    " I had one simple desire: I wanted to pay a monthly fee for unfettered access to a large library of content, but still wanted to be able to bring my own"

    Rhapsody

  • Gandalf_Teh_Gray

    I wish there was a better way to play a genre than adding it to queue, my biggest is luckily below the 1000 song threshold but I'd bet others are not.

  • Stelian Iancu

    Looks nice, but, like you said, too bad it's US only. If I'm not mistaken, the "old" version of the Play Music service is still not available outside the US, right?

    • Michael Parker

      False. It recently came to Australia.

    • http://twitter.com/StuartKBrown Stuart Brown

      The old version is available outside the US - I think in about a dozen countries or so.

  • http://twitter.com/MysteryMannnnn Mystery Man

    I agree moving album artwork is very distracting especially at night when all I am trying to do is change the song instead its trying to give me a seizure

    • Freak4Dell

      Man, if you get seizures while looking at that moving artwork, a turtle race must be your worst nightmare.

  • Dan

    Dammit! Eric Rickrolled me!!! *facepalmofshame*

  • George L

    Did you really insert a RickRoll into the article? Lol. Well played. I shared the article with a friend and he reported that back to me. I started laughing.

  • didibus

    I still find pirating music to be the most easy and accessible way to listen to music. I wish it wasn't, but I just find it really sad that it's still easier to get music for free, than pay someone to give it to ya.

  • Ivan Martinez

    Regarding the Android app ---
    1. I miss the "Shuffle All" button that was originally everywhere.
    2. When are we ever going to get smart playlists, a la iTunes?
    3. Last, will Google ever take advantage of our ratings and start providing us with recommended music? I'd love to see in my music "99 people thumbs upped this song" and I could sort by songs with highest public ratings, etc. I'm a chronic Play Music buyer and it's tough listening to everything and rating it all, would be easier relying on other opinions.

  • http://googleplus.VoluntaryMan.com/ William Thieme

    I hope we can upload our own artist images and that we get multi-artist support someday.

  • jlschulz098

    Cloud services are useless, whats the hype. Cant use it on the road, unless youre near a city the signal is so off and on you lose it connection constantly. Cant use it hiking, mountains block the signal and you lose the signal constantly. Give me my sd card loaded with my own music any day

    • Nick Schiwy

      a) you must have some hokie service if you don't get any signal when you're on the road.
      b) you can download music as a part of your subscription to your device for offline listening

  • http://www.nickschiwy.com/ Nick Schiwy

    Cancelled my satellite radio subscription today in favor of the new All Access service :) Love the new UI, too. It can be a little buggy at times, but I'm sure they will pan that out soon enough.

  • Goo Smoo

    Excellent review. Covers the pros and cons in a neutral manner. Well done. I think I agree with you on pretty much everything. I'd like to see more sorting options (freakin playlist folders please!), but other than that I'm digging the ability to play either my own music or tracks that I get from the service, with no obvious distinction between them. The Android app has crashed for me several times, mostly when adding playlists on either PC or Android while simultaneously playing tracks on the Android, but other than that it's been a great experience so far.

  • Stefan

    About Genres: I don't know how it is with purchased music, but when you upload your own music, you can just edit the genres (I use exfalso for it) of your MP3 (OGG works too) and Google Music will happily accept it. Since all my music is uploaded, that gives me the perfect organization of tracks I want.

  • Matthew Fry

    First off: Eric, thank you for bringing up Lala! I still haven't found a service that matches up to that. Being able to spend $1.50 to have access through the web to a full album (which is 95% of the time) was so awesome. Apple, in an attempt to make me hate them more, bought it and closed it down. Thanks.

    Second: I thought that I'd been rick rolled out. Damn you.

    Third: I understand how it's awesome to abstract the source of the media and just make it streamlined but I don't really understand the allure. If the tracks are purchased they have value beyond the monthly service ones. Making them all equal just underlines that you were stupid to have paid full price for it in the first place cause look, free (9.99/mo free).

    Fourth: Amazon is almost *always* cheaper.

  • Andy Stetson

    Thanks for the review, and the video!

  • Jeff9

    Quick question: I've never used this app, but ever since I updated it, it now seems to constantly run in the background. Any reason why - and how can I stop that from happening?

  • spydie

    The new Play Music continually crashes on my Note 2, and then I tried the desktop version on my Mac and it actually locked up my computer so I had to restart the computer. I've tried uninstalling and re-installing it but it won't play on my Note 2. bought the service... now waiting for an update to fix the problems... hopefully before my 30 free days run out!

  • LukeDukem

    A few things that really bother me and I hope get fixed:
    - It lets you add a song to a playlist more than once without warning, big problem on large playlists

    - It does not allow multiple genre assignments for a song or album
    - I have no idea which songs I own and what is party of the subscription (already mentioned in the article), it would be nice if Google added an option that can be turned on to add a small "$" icon or something next to the songs your own

  • chenzo

    what this app needs to complete the circle is a best in class visualiser. The TV is now the centrepiece of the house now with the best sound system pumping out the audio. Now with Widi/Chromecast/miracast enabling us to stream from our PCs and mobile devices it is now easy to control whatthe house is listening to. Imagine a party however where you are pumping hte tunes butthe big LCD is showing a large album cover, come nice computer generated graphics would be great.... actually thought of another request, the ability to mix in the next tune, now that is asking too much.

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