Thursday, July 30, 2015

Google Play Music

Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA
About a year ago I was a Pandora user.  You probably know Pandora, the music streaming app, the first of its kind to show that there was a market for streaming music.  As I used it more, the premium version began to make sense.  $4 a month is worth it to not have to listen to advertising and I was always running out of skips with the free version.  And that really spoke to the drawback of Pandora, the content was just to limited.  Rarely could it build a playlist that I didn't want to skip half the tracks, and it was obvious from the frequency of repeats that they simply ran out of things that matched my tastes closely.

Enter Google Play Music (gpm from here on out).  I was aware of it, but had balked at the $10 a month fee.  That's along the lines of what I pay for Netflix...  But a friend at work convinced me to give it a shot, and I am eternally grateful that he did!

First off, every single thing you do on Pandora (and likely every single track you used to listen to) is available on gpm.  You can form channels or listen to pre-made channels (basically radio stations) the exact same way, but the library that is being pulled from is VAST.  You could have several terabytes in your music collection (I did), and the moment you start exploring what is available on gpm you will be humbled.  I can't stress enough the immense size of the library your subscription gives you access to.  In a year of using it I have only found one band it lacked, and that was Tool, which surprised me as I had expected my first miss to be something much more obscure.  However, as I will expound upon below, this was by no means an issue as this is more than just a library riding on a cloud.

They allow you to upload from your own library.  Those Tool tracks I couldn't find, I owned already.  I uploaded them, and problem fixed.  It really was that easy.  When I started they capped out the number of files you could upload, think it was 20-30k or so, but recently they either removed the cap, or set it significantly higher as I've been able to upload far more than 30k tracks.

You can listen to anything anytime you want.  You can skip around in a track, or restart a track and replay a track.  You can build set lists of any tracks you want in any order, to your hearts content.  You can build set lists of set lists.  Really it's as if you owned it all and had a decently slick interface into it.

GPM allows you to download and store tracks locally for offline listening.  If a set list is set to be downloaded, it will auto sync changes when it is online.  I can set it to download everything I care to listen to on my phone and head out into the wilderness and never miss a tune.  This is great when driving long distances outside of towns.  I have yet to run into a cap on the locally stored content, and generally keep 15G+ downloaded by default.

The only drawback I ran into is that there is no easy way to move your Pandora data (all the references you used to create your channels) over to GPM, so when you first start out it may take you some time to setup channels you like and build set lists.  The annoyance, however, disappears within a week after you recreate some channels and build a few set lists.  When you realize how much better it is listening to whatever you want whenever you want!

BTW, since this is the first branded product I have strongly endorsed, it's prudent to point out that I don't get paid for writing anything.  I just post my own opinions.  I enable ads and have made an amazing 2 cents (how appropriate, my .02!) to date.

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