Ever since its launch, I have been a Google Music fan. Though I rarely, if ever, buy music, I valued the service’s feature of uploading your own music to the cloud. Like many of us, I had a MP3 collection several years in the making. Utilizing Google Music and Google’s free 20,000 song uploads, I was able to take that entire collection online, easily accessed from any computer or phone.
I remember the days of limited storage space on my hardware. MP3 Players enjoyed a pretty quick rise toward having a usable amount of space, but it took a long while for hardware to meet the vastness of what I had assembled. I had to do a constant shuffle of working out songs I rarely listened to, working in songs I often listened to, and keep the whole supply updated with fresh material. Perhaps the ultimate in first world problems, but in the land of technological convenience, balancing plates on sticks like I had to do with my music was a recipe for lots of frustration.
Google Music changed all of that, for me. No longer was my music collection bound by the hardware in which I listened to it on. Some of you may have been able to hit 20,000 songs, but for me, that was an easy limit to stay below once I trimmed some excess fat. With all my music online, I stopped worrying about the tracks I had downloaded onto my phone (since my MP3 player had since been retired in the wake of owning a smartphone). As long as I had internet access, I was golden.
Google Music is still a perfect go-to option for that sort of use, but the service has since expanded to an all access subscription service. Given that I was pirating music as early as 12 (where I was one of the few kids at my school to have a CD Burner, so I became popular quick), it was a bit of a tough sell to get me to try a $7.99 a month music service ($9.99 for those who aren’t early adopters). It’s not that I mind paying for music – I have purchased tons of CDs in my lifetime. The problem rests with convenience.
For the longest time, downloading music was infinitely more convenient than purchasing it otherwise. Instead of going to the one music store in my area (unless I wanted to patron Walmart with their “will edit it for you and not tell you” policy), risking the very good chance they weren’t going to have anything for the band I wanted, and paying $12+ for a CD with only a couple good tracks, I could get exactly what I wanted at home. I was going to rip the CDs I bought anyway, so there would also be no need for that process either. Plus, no leftover piece of physical junk I am forced to keep.
I recognize there is a lot of entitlement and selfishness in getting a product for free. However, the path of least resistance is always far more appealing than a path beset by pitfalls, traps, and frustration. As music became more and more available for download, I started doing that as much as I could, though I hated doing it. At the time, that meant buying the track from iTunes, which meant dealing with their DRM garbage. If Apple had ever taken the time to make an iTunes for Windows that didn’t move slower than a dead turtle, I might have been excited to continue using their services. They didn’t so I stopped.
I did spend some time paying for Pandora. That was more a luxury than a necessity since I had already spent years dealing with ads and limited skips, but I absolutely loved Pandora’s ability to help me discover new artists to love. I had used the original version of MP3.com for years just for the purpose of music discovery, but it was definitely a needle-in-the-haystack affair.
When Google Music All Access debuted last year, I thought I’d give it a try. I was already using Google Music to house my MP3s, so I had the website and app installed on all of my hardware already. For the price, I thought surely a month could give me a chance to discover some new music. A month turned into nine and All Access quickly became an essential part of my entertainment diet with multiple daily uses.
It was always a matter of convenience. Google Music All Access was the first time I felt like that convenience had come around full circle. I no longer had to slog through nefarious search engines for music, risking viruses and the ire of Lord Comcast. I didn’t have to wait for a new CD to be available for public piracy and feel horrible doing it so soon after release. With few exceptions, Google Music All Access has been able to cover all of those needs, as well as give me a direct line to more complete discographies for artists I may have otherwise missed.
So here’s the rub: you pay a monthly subscription ($7.99 if you were lucky like me, but $9.99 otherwise). You get unlimited access to listen to whatever songs you can find on the service, which is a ton. You can make playlists, favorite tracks and albums, or let Google Music do the work and make playlists for you. There are also radio stations that could be better (they are just playlists setup for specific genres/eras). Other services may be more feature rich, but I enjoy mixing my own music in with Google’s cloud offerings. That way, I can keep everything under a single roof.
I am in love, but perhaps you are in love with something else. Let me know in the comments below!