I have used Google Music for the last few years, however it is going away. This has been on the books for awhile. As the lights are slowly turned off on another Google product, here is my reflection on the options and my choice moving forward.
The most obvious choice is to simply move over to YouTube Music. As Ron Amadeo shared, the demise of Google Music is about YouTube as anything else.
Google’s decision to kill Google Play Music is mostly about YouTube. For a while, it was negotiating two separate music licenses with the record labels—one for YouTube music videos and another for Google Music radio—so combining them makes some amount of sense. In a Google Play Music versus YouTube fight, the service that pulls in $15 billion a year (YouTube) is going to win. YouTube Music pulls songs from YouTube, and Google can consolidate into a single license.
Therefore, a few months ago, I transferred my data over to YouTube Music to try it out.
The one thing I initially noticed was that there is some confusion between ‘YouTube’ and ‘YouTube Music’. I had some pre-exisiting music related playlists in YouTube. These too were available in YouTube Music, often meaning that I could listen to live performances without also watching them. I think this would sort itself out in the long run as my playlists become a bit more consolidated. However, it was an initial point of confusion.
Another observation was the way in which YouTube Music organises artists. For those without a channel, YouTube automatically generates a channel. This means without an official channel, YouTube Music incidentally mashes together different bands/artists with the same name. Look at the Canadian synthpop band DIANA for example, their collection is combined with other random DIANA’s which I am pretty sure are not the real DIANA band. This is a problem also carried over from Google Music.
Damon Krukowski recently explored the question as to whether Bandcamp is a streaming platform. The reality is that it is not. Although it provides such features, of being to access music across devices, the focus seems to be on creating a marketplace for people to purchase music, as well as merchandise. Although I have stepped up my purchases on the platform, not every band is on Bandcamp, therefore this is still primarily about supporting artists.
Own Your Own Music
I have read about people setting up their own personal music servers. I imagine I could probably do this with Reclaim Cloud. The other alternative is to go complete old school and scrap streaming altogether and just load purchases to my devices as I used to do. To be honest, it just isn’t a priority for me right now. I guess I have become far too wedded to the cloud, even with all the hidden costs.
My last stop was Spotify. In regards to user experience, YouTube Music and Spotify seem very similar.
One point of difference between the two platforms is the ability for children to tune in. Although my daughter was able to create her own account to connect with the family subscription associated with Google Music, this was not possible with YouTube Music. I would assume this relates to the fact that YouTube accounts are restricted to 13+, but am not completely sure. Alternatively, Spotify has created a separate app for children. Although this does not allow access to all artists and songs, it does mean at least allow my daughter to have full control without needing to create an account.
There’s a library of 8,000 tracks, judged by Spotify staff to be age-appropriate to children and teens, with more songs to be added over the app’s lifespan.
In addition to this, there are still some artists and albums available on Spotify that are not necessarily available on YouTube Music.
In the end, I ended up going with Spotify. This included using Tune My Music to bring across some of my playlists from Google Music. Maybe in the future I will resurrect my music files and create my own server? As I am apprehensive about the data mined and the move into DNA. Or maybe I will join the (re)turn to vinyl in a search for an optimal experience. I guess we will see.
As always, comments welcome.
If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.
Moving On From Google Music by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.