Time to move on from Google Play Music – FOR REAL THIS TIME

I’m not waiting for Tuesday’s release of the eventual successor to Google Play Music. Ever since the horrendous Google Buzz came and went, and the completely unnecessary and lamentable death of Google Reader, I have known this day would come. And yet, I, like the gullible rube that I am, made my commitment, uploaded thousands and thousands of songs and made Google Play Music an appendage of my very self. throughout my entire post-adolescent life, I have had need of a massive yet portable music collection that needs to be me with me at all times. In the 80’s, this meant a stack of records, which quickly gave way to multiple bread racks of cassette tapes. All the while, I was more interested in the rare bootlegs and b-sides and non-sanctioned, unofficial releases. In Philadelphia (Valley Forge, really) we had a record convention every Thanksgiving where I could find CDs and cassettes of the finest bootlegs from Pink Floyd, Mahavishnu, the Grateful Dead and Gabriel-era Genesis. There is a set of Pink Vinyl from the Roger Waters-less Pink Floyd of the 80’s, and many plain white sleeves containing scratchy recordings of this or that band. Double CD bootlegs, some from radio recordings or soundboards, and some from the audience (complete with ecstatic cries and drug-induced witticisms) could be obtained for $45. $25 for a single disc. And the collection gradually grew and grew and grew.

And then downloading and streaming music came along. Google Play Music arrived as a locker service, which worked fine for me since I had been gradually transferring the entire behemoth of a collection onto mp3 so i could carry it around on my chunky iPod clone. There were actual Apple branded iPods eventually, but the collection was always too big for the storage options I could afford. So a portion was portable and the rest was at home, saved on CDs, CD ROMs, DVDs, hard drives, and cassettes and LPs in the basement.

So when the locker service started, I was well-positioned to spend a night or two slowly uploading all of those mp3’s i had lovingly created from half decades of collecting.

And tonight, I am now DOWNloading all of those titles and more, pulling the data down from the Google “cloud” to be deployed to the Apple “cloud” because Google (a) doesn’t know shit about streaming music services, and (b) doesn’t really care. So, the symmetry of that long, long upload a few years ago, and now a long long download is somewhat poetic.

I knew this would happen. From the very beginning, I fretted about it. I said, out loud to countless people, “Google had better not discontinue this service. If they do, I’m going to be really screwed!”

Welp, I’m really screwed. Replacement service is starting on Tuesday, and the rumor is that Google Play Music will cease to exist by the end of the year. For fuck’s sake!

I had an inkling, recently, that this might be coming. It was not a coherent thought, but more an urge to explore the Apple Music service (using their 90 day promo period) so that I could compare and contrast. Fortunately, it’s fine, it works, it does what it’s supposed to, and there are no significant drawback compared to the Google product. I like having a standalone app to listen with on my laptop, but iTunes is slow and has a confusing layout. So while the overall Apple experience is better because of a more elegant layout (I know, shocking!), I wish iTunes were a bit more intuitive and straightforward in its layout.

Now that expiration of Google Play Music seems imminent, I’m glad I got the hands-on experience of using Apple Music. I treated the trial period as if I were making a switch, so I uploaded LOTS (but not all) of my music that isn’t available on Apple. When I realized that there was not a significant difference in the services, i decided to stay with Google. I think I had an Android phone at the time. As I now prepare to reactivate that account I have no idea if those uploads will still be there.

Google has an option for me to download my whole collection of over 18,000 tracks, which process is currently in its ninth hour and counting. The problem is that all of the tracks are being dumped into a folder with no attempt at organization. The hope would be that I could just drag and drop the whole download into iTunes, but I have a feeling the songs that have already been uploaded will now appear twice. That would be typical Apple. It’s a company that spends so much time trying to make things easy that it often locks out or makes exceedingly difficult any use of its products that deviates from the narrow user experience envisioned by the developers.