The Final Countdown: Google Play Music to end in the fall

We all knew it was coming but we hoped we’d have more time. 

This week, the death toll started to ring for Google Play Music. The popular service will start to wind down in September, as the leaves on the trees turn from lustrous green to defeated brown and drop to the ground in humiliation. 

Dry your tears, friends. We’ll find a way through. 

On Tuesday, YouTube Music– which Google wants to replace GPM in our hearts and minds — released a detailed timeline for the transition. 

“Starting in September 2020 in New Zealand and South Africa– and in October for all other global markets — users will no longer be able to stream from or use the Google Play Music app,” the company says. “But don’t worry, we will be holding onto things like your playlists, uploads, purchases, likes and more until December 2020 to make your transfer to YouTube Music easier. Users who wish to transfer their music libraries from Google Play Music to YouTube Music can do so through December 2020, after which their Google Play Music libraries will no longer be available.” 

We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. 

There’s more. 

Starting later this month, GPM users will no longer be able to purchase or pre-order any new songs or albums. We’ll also lose the ability to download any music purchased via GPM or upload any new digital albums. 

Now is the time, it appears, to either start transferring files over to YouTube Music or look for alternatives

All GPM users will be notified before they lose access to their Google Play Music libraries, YouTube Music promises. 

And of course, there are promises of new and exciting and improved features to make the transition easier. 

YouTube Music is promising improved playlist tools, including the ability to add songs to playlists based on what’s already included, in addition to “personalized signals, such as watch history and likes.” 

If you’ve shared playlists with other people via Google Play Music, you can still collaborate with friends and create new lists. Users will also be able to explore new programmed playlists based on themes like “Caribbean Pulse” and “Conditions Underground.” 

YouTube Music promises the player page is being updated and features a “modern design that allows better playback controls and easier access to related music and other features like song lyrics.” 

There’s also the promise of a new app for Android TV that lets users watch videos and live performances, along with listening to music, on their TVs, and a new integration that “lets listeners seamlessly listen to music and get personalized music recommendations within the Google Maps interface.”

What?! Moving on.  

For those who have a Google Assistant device, with the move from GPM to YouTube Music, it’s now possible to ask the smart speaker to play music based on recommendations and likes from your account. 

All this and more will be yours at the low, low price of losing Google Play Music, a system we all loved and that worked perfectly fine for years. 

The clock is ticking, folks. Transfer files now while you can. 

Amber Healy

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

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