my dad’s birthday
happy birthday, neal!

the new google music needs a new name

I mean, Google Play Music All Access doesn’t roll off the tongue, does it? (Not to mention the “Listen Now” angle.)

Longtime readers know that I lust after streaming music services, and am willing to pay if they do what I want. I don’t mean Pandora, although that has its uses. I mean services that give you access to enormous catalogs, while also allowing you to integrate your own music into the mix. (This is still the only way to get the Beatles or Led Zeppelin whenever you want them.) I want to be able to pick a song and here it, right now. I want to make playlists that mix the online catalog with my tunes.

I’ve gone with Rhapsody more than once, and in terms of total time being subscribed, they are probably still #1. But their desktop software always sucked, and (perhaps correctly) they gradually lost interest, moving to improving their web version. I tried Microsoft’s Zune for awhile … it wasn’t bad. I loved MOG, still do, but the absence of integration with my own music files is a dealbreaker. Like many people, I’m now on Spotify. I pay the extra to avoid ads, and so I can take advantage of all mobile functions.

And now, here comes Google. The new Google Music (I’ll call it that until they come up with something better) has a large catalog good for streaming. It allows you to put your own files in the mix. It has playlist-creation capabilities, and the kind of “smart radio” stuff that’s pretty standard now. The main difference, at the moment (and I’ve only been messing with it for a few hours), is that there is no desktop software. You access the music via a web browser. OK, it’s 2013, I can handle that. But it means something particular for the part where they integrate your music with theirs. Spotify just plays tracks off of my hard drive. Google Music uploads my music to their servers, and plays it from there. They seem to have a matching service (if they have the track in question, they won’t upload yours but just play theirs), but whatever … it’s a long process to get thousands of MP3s to the cloud.

I can’t tell yet if I like the interface, and it’s too soon for me to say how solid their catalog is. So this is a very preliminary post. Some of the other Google changes today have made a more instant impact on my regular computing … Google+ looks entirely different, now, for instance. If nothing else, Google Music will hopefully goose their competitors to do better, as well. Meanwhile, the price for all the good stuff is $9.99/month, like most of the services, but if you get in now, it’ll be $7.99.