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When Google discontinued Play Music, it also decided to pull the plug for the Play Store music section. That means you can no longer purchase songs from Google. A YouTube Music or Premium subscription is the only option going forward if you want to access songs through the company. That's a bummer because the Play Store is no longer a one-stop solution for all of your media needs, and there aren't a whole lot of full-fledged alternatives. But if you're looking to decouple parts of your digital life from Google, there are a few things you can do.
Amazon is pretty much the only place to go if you want a full replacement for what the Play Store offers if you're an Android user. You can get apps, rent and buy movies and TV shows, purchase music files, get books and audiobooks, and also obtain physical goods, of course — there's the Amazon app store, Prime Video, Amazon Music, Kindle, Audible, and the Amazon Shopping app. If you're looking to decouple parts of your digital life from Google, you need to decide for yourself if trusting another big company is the way to go, though.
Apple (to an extend)
Apple Music, one of the few Apple apps available on Android.
Apple's digital stores are only a viable solution if you're invested in Apple's ecosystem or ready to switch from Android. Otherwise, you won't be able to access a lot of your purchases while you're out and about, not to mention the lack of Chromecast support for most media types. You can still purchase music from iTunes, download it, and export it to your own digital locker, so if you're just looking for a replacement for music, you might find it to be a workable solution. Apple Music is also available on Android, but if you want to access music in your iTunes library on Android, you need to be a paying Music subscriber.
Bandcamp is a platform that focuses on giving musicians and labels as much control over their music as they could get. They can upload their music to the platform, set the prices themselves, and fans have the option to spend more on an album from a band they really love. Bandcamp gets a 15% cut, which drops to 10% once an artist surpasses $5000 of revenue.
You can download music from the website in lossy and lossless formats (MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF) or stream purchased songs right on the Bandcamp website or app. Artists can also offer physical goods like CDs, vinyls, and merch in addition to digital purchases.
7digital started out as a business-to-business service offering music and tracking to clients, but it's long expanded to the consumer market and sells music digitally on its website and in its app. It sells "over 40 million high quality tracks," offering both MP3 files in 256kbps and 320kbps and 16 or 24bit FLACs at a premium.
The Android app supports Chromecast and Android Auto and lets you download and stream your purchased music.
As the name implies, HDTracks focuses on offering high-quality, high-fidelity digital music. The catalogue mainly consists of jazz, classical music, soft rock, and historic recordings. You won't find MP3s in its store; there are only CD-quality FLACs, WAVs, DSDs, AIFFs, ALACs, and so on. In addition, HDTracks offers HD album covers and PDF liner notes. There's no Android app, so you need to download music on your desktop or phone and use your pre-installed music player or something like Phonograph. If you use a digital locker instead, make sure it supports high-fidelity music.
In addition to being a digital music store, Qobuz is also a streaming platform that tries to rival Tidal with a similar focus on high-fidelity music. It offers a broad selection of different genres for download in its store in at least CD-quality (16-bit FLAC), and some high-resolution audio as 24-bit FLAC files.
Qobuz has an Android app that allows you to stream the music you've purchased through the service. It supports Chromecast and some proprietary solutions from Hi-Fi manufacturers like Klipsch, Yamaha, Sony, Sonos, etc.
Movies and TV shows
Microsoft and Movies Anywhere
Microsoft used to have a full-fledged store for all things media, but a few years ago, it removed the book and music sections, leaving only its movie and TV show offers in place next to apps and games. You can both rent and buy films and series in the store, and there are frequent sales and rewards that you can redeem. Many titles are available in 4K at no surcharge.
Microsoft doesn't offer an Android app for movies and TV shows, but it supports Disney's Movies Anywhere. You can use that platform to stream movies and TV shows on your Android phone if you don't have an Xbox or PC. Movies Anywhere aggregates films and shows from a lot of video streaming services, including all of the ones mentioned in this roundup. It supports Chromecast and Android TV.
Vudu is among the oldest digital film and TV show stores, but it's been passed around a lot of corporations in recent years. It allows you to rent and purchase a good selection of "over 100,000" titles, and there are even some ad-supported free movies and series in SD quality. Paid content is available in HD and 4K, and there are frequent sales and bundles as well as a few home premieres. If you want expand your digital collection, you can also convert physical copies into digital ones for a small fee.
You can download movies and shows on your Android phone via the Vudu app. It supports Chromecast, and there's an Android TV version.
Fandango bought Vudu in 2020, so it's possible that Vudu will be folded into FandangoNow someday, or both into NBC's Peacock (yeah, the film and TV market is convoluted and complicated right now). FandangoNow offers over 150,000 movies and TV shows available for rent and purchase. Like Vudu, there are home premieres, regular offers and bundles, and resolutions of up to 4K.
The Fandango Android app lets you cast content via Chromecast and Airplay, and you can stream and download your library when you're on the go.
Books and audiobooks
Rakuten Kobo might be one of the best-known e-book reader, and the company also sells e-books and audiobooks, complete with a subscription service for the latter. In the store, you can find deals and bundles as well as preorders.
Kobo offers an Android app that you can use for both e-books and audiobooks. You can customize the way text is displayed, and there's a dark mode. Audiobooks come with an easy-to-use scrubbing bar and a sleep timer.
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Nobles also sells e-books which you can read with its own Nook reader or app. On top of the 4 million paid books, there are over 75,000 free titles, interactive kids books, and you can download free samples. On the digital audiobook side, B&N offers more than 125,000 titles that you can listen to via the Nook Audiobooks app, though customers don't seem to be satisfied with the application 100% when you look at the Play Store ratings.
You can use the Nook app for shopping and reading. It lets you set up your preferred reading experience: Font styles, line spacing, margins, animations, background colors, and screen brightness are all adjustable. There's also a zoom view for comics and an article view for magazines. For audiobooks, you'll need the dedicated extra app.
As you can see, there's no perfect replacement for the all-encompassing digital marketplace the Play Store used to be. With music booted off of it, you'd really have to switch to Amazon if you want all of your media files in one place, and even then, you might have to re-purchase things you've bought on the Play Store if you want access to everything in the same spot.
Keep in mind that you don't actually own media on any digital platform — you're only obtaining a license to access it, which you could lose if the studio decides not to provide it anymore or the corporation offering the streaming platform goes bankrupt. If you really want to have full control over your library, going back to physical is the only viable solution. It's even legal or at least tolerated to rip DVDs and Blu-Rays you own for personal use in some countries.