Many of us are still trying to come to terms with the loss of Google Play Music.
At some point this year, the incredibly user-friendly and really efficient cloud/library/streaming service/radio mimicker/friend to all will fade away into the internet graveyard of great ideas killed off for…some reason.
That leaves users of Google Play Music – or GPM as the cool kids call it – wondering what to do next.
After some searching, head-scratching, and asking around, it turns out there are a handful of options, some better than others, some free, some free with a paid tier, to be considered as replacements for GPM if you don’t want to go the suggested route of transitioning everything over to YouTube Music.
For the record (no pun intended), GPM says it will be transitioning people over by invitation at this point, to allow for a gradual movement onto the new(ish/er) service. If you need to be moved over now and haven’t received your invitation, you can request one, as Google Play told a twitter user in response to an article earlier in this week.
Also, for the record, I’ve asked GPM a few questions that others have raised this week, pertaining to whether you need to pay for YouTube Music to utilize all its features, most importantly the ability to upload your own music library, but so far I haven’t received any answers directly. If anyone else has, please let me know and I’ll update this article accordingly, with thanks.
Here are some of the options for people who want to continue having access to their personally owned music files via a cloud-based service in a fashion similar to what we’ve liked about GPM for the past 10 or so years:
Plex starts out looking really strong. It offers a cloud-based library for MP3s and video files alike, along with podcasts and web-based shows. “Plex is the key to personal media bliss,” the website says. “Once you download our free and easy-to-use software where you store your files (usually a computer or external hard drive), it takes care of the rest. Plex magically scans and organizes your files, automatically sorting your media beautifully and intuitively in your Plex library. Once you’ve downloaded our app on your favourite device, you’ll be up and streaming everything in minutes.”
It promises to add cover art, photos, bios, tour info (when the world gets back to touring, that is), AND it’s welcoming of different types of music files, including FLAC. For people who also want to stream, that’s an option too, powered by Tidal. It’s got a 4.2 rating from Android users, a 4.7 from Apple users and a 4.1 from Roku users. There might be some additional fees, but most of the important music-based services similar to GPM look to be free or low cost.
iBroadcast is another well-reviewed and highly recommended cloud-based music library. It doesn’t have as much detail on its website, which is kind of a shiny storefront without anything to buy or search. But dig around a little in the FAQ and there’s a better sense of what’s going on. Like Plex, iBroadcast promises an easy transition and set-up. “iBroadcast is a place where you can store all of your music then organize it, explore it and enjoy listening to it,” the FAQ says. “We are not a subscription streaming service (like Spotify or Pandora). That means in order to use our service, you must first upload your music to your iBroadcast library. Once you have uploaded your music and it is stored with iBroadcast, it will be kept safe and made available to you wherever you are. Your purchased music will always be available for you to listen to on your own terms. You don’t have to worry about subscription streaming services losing their licensing deals, not being able to find your favourite version of a song, or artists pulling their music from a service. Once it’s here, it stays.” iBroadcast is also supported and functional with smart speakers include Alexa, Google Home and Chromecast.
Audiobox offers users the ability to synchronize their own media on any supported device, along with the ability to create and store smart playlists with files from different sources. Using something called a “Unified Library” will synchronize media files on different platforms – pulling info together from computers as well as cloud storage services including Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, Box and others. For people who collect and share files across various clouds, this could be a deal maker, as all the files in all the various pockets will be in the same place and playable without having to change windows. Audiobox is NOT free from the start, unlike the others, and has a variety of subscription services based on how much storage you want. At the low end, for 5GB of storage, it’ll be $0.99 per month; 50GB will cost $4.99 per month; for $9.99 per month you’ll get 100GB; and the largest offering is 200GB for $19.00 per month (all prices USD). File quality is preserved, meta tags are incorporated and album artwork is automatically provided. For users who already have external cloud storage, Audiobox notes that you don’t necessarily have to get a 200GB subscription. “Every plan features third-party sync capability, so you can just get the cheapest plan if you don’t intend to use the AudioBox Cloud. Just keep in mind the AudioBox Cloud is optimized for media files, while all the others are just storage.” And if you do buy a lower-priced tier and hit your limit, AudioBox will charge an extra $0.20 per GB. There’s an iOS6.x and Android app for this.
AudioStreamer is a “free web-based audio streamer which gives you easy access to your music. It turns your computer into a streaming webserver,” allowing users to listen to their libraries anywhere. It’s a free, open-source project, for those who like to tinker or make their own alterations, and has no ads or require any other software. Users are able to create their own desktop for the computer they’re using without, custom to each one, or to use different pre-made themes. And here’s a winning phrase for those who like to try something different: It’s available for Windows and Linux. Rejoice! It’s free but you can make a donation to keep the service running if you’d like.
Again, this is a partial list of options and alternatives to YouTube Music. There are probably dozens out there. Those just looked like they had the best options and deals based on what it seems most people like best about GPM.
Here are a few others for your consideration and research:
And here are some other lists of offerings if you want to do some additional exploring:
Editor’s note: Some of these lists might still include GPM as an option. We’re all dealing with the change in our own ways and in our own time.
If you know of a different service that provides most or all the functionality of GPM or will be a serviceable replacement? Please share in the comments.