A few days ago, Google announced it would be rolling out a new, simple way for users of its Play Music offering to transfer files over to YouTube Music, the culmination of a nearly two-year effort to streamline its music service.
Those who haven’t been paying attention might have been caught off guard with this announcement.
Google Play Music has been a very easy way to upload CDs and purchased music from other platforms into a single cloud, accessible anywhere. For those of us who still buy CDs, this has been a “best of both worlds” scenario: your CDs, converted to digital music with ease, without having to purchase songs or whole albums twice.
Ok. So what does all this mean?
“YouTube Music will be your only streaming music option from the company later this year when Google Play Music is fully shut down,” The Verge explains. “Google isn’t specifying exactly when that will occur, but it says customers will receive plenty of warning ahead of time. There’s a lot of hand-holding going on here, with Google saying ‘we know it will take time to get used to, and we’re here for you’ in a new video about the change.”
This will be a phased-in approach, so if there’s nothing different about a user’s Google Play Music experience at this time, just wait. It’ll happen.
If you’re a devotee of Google’s service, it’s fair and reasonable to be concerned.
This is a very simple, user-friendly website and store that’s been really easy to use on a desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, whatever. It’s normal to feel a little apprehensive. That sense of dread and concern is understandable.
As Ars Technica notes, Google Play Music, put simply, has worked. That Google has largely been preparing for the next big thing for a few years now is disappointing.
“The accelerated death march of the last two years has led to the service’s functionality being duplicated by other Google services, mostly YouTube Music, which launched in 2015,” Ars Technica reports. “The one feature that didn’t make the jump to YouTube is podcasts, which are now covered by the Google Podcasts service,” which will also be eligible for transfer to YouTube Music soon.
But, again, beware.
“If this YouTube Music library transfer thing turns out to be a huge disaster, there aren’t a whole lot of alternative options for an online music locker,” the article continues. “Amazon was Google’s major music locker competitor, but that service was shut down in 2018. Apple’s iCloud Music Library looks like the only main remaining service out there, though you’ll need to pay Apple a subscription fee every month, and support on non-Apple devices looks iffy.”
There are options for people who want to host their own online music collection, but it won’t be as simple and straightforward as what Google’s offered for the past decade.
Admittedly, this is a small problem in the streaming era. Why bother buying music at all if you can stream every song (pretty much) at any time? Who cares whether you have access to digitized versions of CDs taking up space in your house when Spotify and other streaming services eliminates all that space waste for a few dollars a month?
But remember, Google Play Music did offer curated playlists too. It had a store component for purchasing digital music, by the song or by the album. It had a “radio” option to create themed listening experiences based on what the user liked, the bands in their collection, the songs they’ve listened to most often.
Now all songs uploaded to Google’s music cloud will need to be transferred to YouTube Music, and we’re all hoping it’ll work smoothly and effectively.
What do you think? Are you concerned about this or are you more surprised that Google Play Music is still a thing? If you’ve received the promised invitation to start transferring your files to YouTube Music, has the process of transferring files gone smoothly? We want to know.