Google’s music-focused press conference yesterday was surprisingly underwhelming. They released Google Music to the public, which many of us have been using in Beta for the last few months. It’s a cloud-based music service to which you can upload up to 20,000 songs for free, and can listen to them everywhere. They’ve also included a store, and a way to share music via Google Plus. Sounds cool, except for the fact that Amazon has a similar product, but upgrades you to unlimited storage space if you buy any mp3 album through them. And Apple just rolled out iTunes Match, which allows users to upload 25,000 songs to the cloud, and Apple will match those songs (even if they’re stolen) with higher quality versions.
But of course, there’s a catch to both Amazon and Apple. Amazon only let’s you upload mp3s. This kind of sucks, especially if you have a collection of FLAC or mp4 or any other music type. Going through and converting everything is kind of annoying, so that’s out. Also, rumor is that they down-sample everything, so even if you upload a 320kbps version of every mp3 you own, you’re still probably streaming it at 128kbps – an audiophile’s worst nightmare.
Apple is also tricky. Firstly, they’re charging $25 a year for their service. Sounds great and reasonable, but compared the the free options it’s annoying. And their “higher quality” versions of songs means they upgrade your 128 or 190kbps tracks to 256. Not bad, but also ear-grindingly frustrating for those who care about high quality audio.
And then there’s Google. Sure, you can’t download the songs from the cloud. And their store is lacking and doesn’t bring anything new to the table. And their social features are bested by the combination of Spotify and Facebook. Nevertheless, they’re the number one cloud choice for me, and here’s why:
- There’s an iPhone app
- You can upload any music file type
- You can stream high quality audio
- They have a free, unreleased, Pearl Jam bootleg in their store
That’s basically all I need. Good quality audio that I can listen to anywhere + free Pearl Jam. No, this is not a good system to backup your music – you can’t even download the songs. And the 20,000 song limit will get annoying pretty soon. But for now, I’m flying high and enjoying having a good chunk of my music, anywhere I go.
Ben Harper – Rock N Roll Is Free (live)