Dreading the loss of Google Play Music? Here are some alternatives

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:

Ampache

Sonerezh

Doubletwist’s Cloud Player

Koel

MellowPlayer

MyCloudPlayers

And here are some other lists of offerings if you want to do some additional exploring:

AlternativeTo

CloudWards

DigitalMusicNews

VOX

Slant

GadgetReview

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.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

18 thoughts on “Dreading the loss of Google Play Music? Here are some alternatives

  • May 23, 2020 at 5:57 pm
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    Second hand CDs off eBay are quite cheap, and easy to rip to lossless files. There’s no subscription, and you don’t have to worry about the service shutting down.

    If you get bored of the music you can legitimately sell it.

    You can leave your music collection in your will to family or friends, whereas music you “bought” on most streaming services is just a personal license which expires when you expire.

    Reply
  • May 23, 2020 at 7:40 pm
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    Ok so here’s a question nobody has even thought to ask, what about those of us who’s library comes entirely from GPM? I use GPM because that’s where all my music, i.e. I haven’t uploaded my own stuff to it. That’s the biggest reason I haven’t switched. I don’t want to have to search for 300+ songs again in and no one has a way of importing on library to another. Looks like I’m stuck with ytm whether I want it or not.

    Reply
    • May 24, 2020 at 12:35 pm
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      I am considering Plex and funkwhale. But you and the readers comments are helping me expand my list of options. Any one have an opinion about funkwhale?

      Reply
    • May 25, 2020 at 6:39 am
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      You own your purchases from the Play store. If you go into the website and download the files to your computer, using Chrome, you can get them and throw them into Google Drive, OneDrive, whatever. You might have to fight with Google about their 10 device limit, but it is an option.

      I would do this now before Google changes their mind.

      This reminds me about how Microsoft screwed everyone over. They told us we could pay for Spotify and sync our files into their catalog. It didn’t always work out that way.

      Reply
  • May 24, 2020 at 9:03 am
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    One big difference between GPM and YTM which will hit hard post-transition is the fact that you can stream to Chromecast from GPM for free, whereas in YTM casting is a privilege of Premium subscribers only. Which seems mean when you think about it. Maybe Google will do the right thing and fix this.

    Reply
    • May 24, 2020 at 11:34 am
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      I’ve tried reaching out to Google to get that exact question answered. If they decide to talk, I’ll update. But, y’know, I’m not holding my breath.

      Reply
      • June 20, 2020 at 1:11 pm
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        The GPM details have have changed, and not better….

        June 2020-
        100 song Google Music limit pops up when trying to download library- a joke for downloading an 18,000+ song collection. Actually no joke but is it evil, a greedy ploy, to force YouTube music migration?
        NO BETTER THAN APPLE.
        FORCED MIGRATION to YouTube for Medeia/audio with inferior features, low portability and FEES
        100 song limit on GMusic web-chrome App(windows, android and linux chrome versions). GMusic Manager no longer works on windows PC (cannot connect to google play error- search for it!), and Google Music on Linux same problem.
        As a long time google, chromebook user I have now have gone Linux on my new pc-
        Google Play Music MUST IMPROVE by allowing MyMusic to be downloaded. Google Take-out only exports meta-data– (not flac files, mps, ogg, etc).
        I will give a rest period, keep trying and then evaluate- if not fixed all should evaluate actions and complaints for anti-competitive action in state, US, and EU.

        Amber, thanks for the article – keep poking in to Google… Please look into this, write an article, and get answers for me (and others).

        BTW, Whipper looks great but hard to install for newbies (as are most packages for the non-linux masses). Have tried Asunder and iBroadcast, still not satisfied quite fully.

        Reply
  • May 24, 2020 at 11:17 am
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    I’ve tried many ways to stream my own music including most on the list. However, hands down the most robust option is Subsonic. It has scores of different apps you can use on Android, iOS and every other platform. I can’t imagine not having it.

    Reply
    • May 24, 2020 at 11:35 am
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      Thanks for the suggestion! I need to do more sorting and research before it’s too late — and before I go back to a workplace that doesn’t have my CD collection within arm’s reach.

      Reply
      • May 24, 2020 at 2:29 pm
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        I’ve been giving Subsonic a try, and I’ll probably end up paying for the $12/yr premium membership. I tried out and got frustrated with the official Android app, but I’m liking dSub so far. ($4 in the Play Store, or you can find the APK free online.) For the most part, GPM is better (Subsonic sorts by file/folder, not ID3 tags) though Subsonic has some nice features GPM doesn’t (like starring entire albums.)

        Reply
    • May 24, 2020 at 4:38 pm
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      I use a service known as Astiga (found at https://asti.ga) to stream my music from my cloud storage. It was recommended to me by the creator himself, and I’ve had very few problems since I began using it. Would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a GPM replacement and would love to see it added to this list.

      Reply
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  • June 13, 2020 at 7:48 pm
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    Amber, thanks so much for this article. I am hoping iBroadcast is my answer. It took me a lot of Googling before landing on your article. Every other Google search didn’t turn up anything that was going to be helpful to truly replace GPM as storage for my collection. ….Now the question: how long will take me to download my extensive collection? Any thoughts, ideas, or tricks on downloading 20,000+ songs?

    Reply
  • June 17, 2020 at 7:58 am
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    This is a great article. I have been using Plex (lifetime pass) for a number of years, as I use it for my other parts of my media collection (movies, photos) as well. It works really well for the most part. Plus as you stated, it works with just about any file type. It also supports downloading music to your device for offline listening.

    Reply
  • June 18, 2020 at 11:25 am
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    which of the suggested alternative GPM app enables you to listen to my songs OFFLINE -thanks

    Reply
  • June 18, 2020 at 8:19 pm
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    I have begun making the switch to iBroadcast. It has Web interface and phone app. Phone app allows downloads for offline play. Their MediaSync desktop app works well for uploading. And they have been super fast about replying to Feedback and Questions. Meanwhile…downloading my extensive collection off of GPM…i’m doing it manually, album by album, because otherwise it takes forever to download library and no control if you lose connection. However, I’ve learned. I’m making 3 backups of music in addition to iBroadcast.

    Reply
    • June 19, 2020 at 5:17 am
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      thanks Ben– i will try iBroadcat ( i hate the way youtube interupsts with ads) … basic Q (apologies) where in the settings on GPM is a download /upload link to send to iBroadcast–many thanks

      Reply

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