Friday, February 3, 2012

The New Walkman Part 2 - Google Music

Welcome to Part 2 of our music service reviews!  In this installment, we'll be reviewing Google's new server called Google Music.  I, Tony Campo, have spent the last 2 weeks getting used to the interface and services offered by Google Music so I could come back and tell all of you sweet friendly followers the good, bad, and neutral's to it all!

App Profile:
Type: Music storage and playback
Platforms: Android, iPhone (iOS)
Developer: Google
Reason for downloading: To store up your music on a remote server in case your computer ever dies! Also, to be able to access and playback your music from any computer or eligible smartphone.

What your screen will look like if you're playing a song.  Pretty simple!

 Alphabetical organization by artist
So, what is Google Music and how does it work?  It's free online storage for up to 20,000 songs available to access from anywhere on your Android or iPhone, as well as anywhere you can download the computer program.  So probably not at school or work, but definitely at your friends house.  The app is free for Androids, and there are a few apps available for the iPhone that allow you to access them that range in price from 99 cents to $4.99.  You CAN get additional storage beyond 20,000 songs, but it costs money.  And I pity you if you have that many songs...  My personal collection is around 16,000 and it took nearly 3 days of non-stop of uploading to get it all situated on their server.  I was at work tracking progress one day when it just suddenly stopped.  Turns out my cat jumped up on the desk and unplugged my external hard drive somehow.  So I had to start over.  So I immediately had a bitter taste in my mouth with this application.  That quickly passed as I could breathe a sigh of relief knowing my entire music collection was now backed up to a secure server.

So here's the nitty gritty of it.  The user interface is pretty easy to use - you just find what you're looking for in your own collection of music.  It is sorted and can be searched by genre, artist, album, and song.  It's YOUR music, so you know exactly what you have and where it should be, at all times.  You can create your own playlists and name them right from the phone.  You will need a computer to upload your songs to the actual server first.

 Searching by artist
It's kind of frustrating in the sense that if your music isn't perfectly named and hyphenated appropriately, you may be endlessly searching for a song you didn't know was wrong.  It's very important to know the difference between Tim McGraw - She's My Kind Of Rain and Tim Mcgraw--She's My Kind Of Rain and tim mcgraw - 01 - She's My Kind Of Rain.  Before you upload your music, you may want to go through it and give it some uniformity.  If you're like me, you do that after you download an album, before you put it in an appropriately named genre folder.  This can tend to be more of a problem if you are one of those internet pirates obtaining your music from an unreliable source.

The other category that will throw you for a serious loop is one that is near and dear to my heart as a music fanatic, and that is "Genre."  In my music world there are only 6 categories of music - Rock, Country, Hip Hop, Classic Rock (Rock music made before 1990), Pop, and "Other."  Stuff that fits into other is mainly instrumental and isn't something I listen to frequently.  I modify each file so I know what I'm looking for based on those 6 genres.  So if I am looking for Pearl Jam, I know to look under Rock.  If I'm looking for Lynyrd Skynyrd, I'll look under classic rock.  Not "Grunge," or "Southern Rock."  So if you want a specific genre, you'll have to be sure to go through and categorize your music so it's all what you know and what you prefer.

If you have several songs/artists/albums that are the same, the service will show all listed choices for you.  This is tough to explain, but the best way to describe it is like this:  Say for example you want to listen to Guns N Roses Greatest Hits.  So you go look at the album and click on it.  Suddenly you have 500-600 songs in there.  That's because there are 500-600 songs on albums titled "Greatest Hits."  

Lastly, if you haven't uploaded specific album covers for your songs, Google will find something completely unrelated to be that cover.  See my example below.

For Sixx: A.M.'s album "This Is Gonna Hurt," Google chose the movie poster for NOT Another Teen Movie.

The Good: 
  • All YOUR music is saved, accessible from virtually anywhere, and backed up
  • You can create playlists and choose what you want to hear
  • You can continually add and delete music from your server
  • Simple, easy to use, similar to iTunes, and best of all, the software is free
The Ugly:
  • Each individual file must be 100% completely accurate, and filled out correctly
  • If album titles between 2 artists match, you're stuck sorting through both/all albums to find the songs you want
  • Album covers tend to be random
  • You're only listening to your own music - so you won't be exposed to anything new.  Can tend to get stale after a while
  • Again, just like Pandora, you are streaming music over the internet.  This means you may want to be cautious of your data usage so you don't go over.
Overall, this is a very reliable app that you can and should use if you are going from an iPhone to an Android and you want to have something like iTunes to store your music on.  iTunes definitely holds the card as the most reliable, proven, stable software, but this is easily a close second.  I can imagine in a few short months, we may see some cleanup software like we did with iTunes, so all your album titles, genre's, and album covers will be corrected and made consistent.

1 comment:

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