Google Music is dead, and with it one of many few remaining connections I’ve to the corporate that doesn’t really feel like a gun to my head. The service, now merged haphazardly with YouTube Music, recalled the early days of Google, after they typically simply made cool web issues. It made it practically a decade, although — fairly spectacular for a one among their merchandise.
I’ll simply say it up entrance: I’m a lifelong music pirate. Oh sure, I’ve reformed in recent times, however I’ve obtained an enormous library of tracks that I’ve cultivated for many years and don’t plan to desert any time quickly (likewise you’ll be able to pry Winamp from my chilly, useless arms). So when Google announced back in 2011 I might stream all of it to myself at no cost, it sounded too good to be true.
And certainly it was a relic of the outdated Google, which was fairly merely all about taking issues which are troublesome to do your self (discover issues on-line, arrange a brand new electronic mail tackle, collaborate on a spreadsheet) and make them simpler.
Google Music — as we’ll name it regardless of it having gone via a number of branding modifications earlier than the ultimate indignity of being merged into one other, worse service as a presumably short-lived tab — was not first to the music-streaming or downloading world by an extended shot, however its promise of having the ability to add your outdated music recordsdata and entry them wherever as in the event that they have been emails or paperwork was a surprisingly beneficiant one.
Beneficiant not simply in that it was offering server house for 20,000 songs (!) at no cost and the infrastructure for serving these songs the place you went, however in its acknowledgement of different fashions of proudly owning media. It didn’t decide you for having 20,000 MP3s — they weren’t subjected to some type of legitimacy test, and so they didn’t report you to the RIAA for having them, although they actually might have.
No, Google Music’s free media locker was the corporate, or not less than a quorum of the product workforce, asserting that they get it: not everybody does all the pieces the identical approach, and never everybody is able to embrace no matter enterprise mannequin tech firms determine is sensible. (Notably it has shifted a number of occasions extra since then.)
Although my perennial work frenemy on the time MG Siegler was not impressed with the beta, I vigorously defended it, noting that Google was beginning easy and looking out ahead fairly then attempting to beat Apple at their very own sport. Plus, secretly, I used to be feverishly importing 100 gigs of music I’d gotten from Audiogalaxy, Napster, and SoulSeek. Right here, I believed, was a bridge between my antiquarian habits and the slicing fringe of tech.
Since then, just like the resentfully loving proprietor of a junker, through the years I’ve been annoyed by Google Music within the ways in which just one who really depends on one thing may be. The app grew to become important to me at the same time as its ever-changing and complicated interface confounded me. As Google’s media technique and choices fluctuated and blurred, my uploaded music sat there quietly, doing the identical factor it did at launch: internet hosting my music recordsdata. No matter it did along with that, it nonetheless let me entry the glitchy, 128kbps model of The Bends I downloaded in 2001. I additionally had the safety of realizing if my many drives died in a fireplace, I might not less than get better my valuable MP3s.
Whether or not I’d ripped it myself, pirated it in faculty, purchased it on Bandcamp, or obtained it from a code contained in the vinyl I purchased at a present, it labored on Google Music. It built-in all my music in a very all-accepting cloud participant, and for that motive, I beloved it regardless of its flaws and whole lack of hipness.
Now, in deference to the explosion of YouTube’s recognition as a music platform — which extra than anything actually is because of a brand new sort of laziness and platform agnosticism peculiar to the following era — Google Music exists as a form of ghost of itself throughout the YouTube Music app, itself an evolution of a pair different failed music methods.
Maybe Google felt that the optics of obsoleting a service and slicing off thousands and thousands of customers from one thing helpful and beloved weren’t price risking — after doing precisely that with Reader (RIP).
So (after culling the customers who forgot that they had accounts) they settled on the following smartest thing, which was making Google Music suck. Buried inside the brand new app, the music I uploaded has undergone a regression: intermingled and combined, poorly organized, unable to be searched via, and at each event introduced as the more severe choice, the uploaded library operate appears to have been hidden away and hobbled.
The ugly and dependable Music Supervisor, which has run within the background on my Home windows PCs for years, is useless, and including new music is completed by manually dragging the recordsdata onto the YouTube Music tab. Complaining about having to maneuver my fingers a couple of inches after I get a brand new album appears a bit pampered, so I’ll simply say that it’s telling that Google selected to make the consumer do the work when the entire service was constructed round stopping precisely that type of work from having to be performed.
I suppose I’m an exception to the standard Google and YouTube consumer, and as I’ve been cautious to indicate the corporate for the final 20 years or so, there’s no cash to be created from me. But as quickly as I understood that Google was going to make it arduous for me to do what I had been doing with them for a decade, I made a decision I used to be prepared to pay for it. Now I pay Plex for a service Google determined was beneath them, and by the way it’s approach higher. (Come to think about it, I began paying for Feedly after Google killed Reader, too.)
In a approach I’m grateful. The concept of divorcing myself completely from Google’s ecosystem isn’t a sensible one for me, although I do it the place I can (although having moved to iOS, the treatment typically appears worse than the illness). One of many tattered bindings holding me to Google was the music factor. And whereas I do plan to take up 100 gigabytes on one among their databases someplace for so long as I probably can, I’m glad the corporate admitted that what they have been giving me didn’t make sense for them any extra. It means one much less motive that what Google has to offer is sensible for me.
Each service from Google now, particularly with these new, dangerous logos, feels much less prefer it’s providing an answer to an issue and extra prefer it’s simply one other type of leverage for the corporate. We have been spoiled by the outdated, bizarre Google that did issues like Books as a result of they might, throwing it within the tooth of the publishers, or Wave, an experiment in interactivity that in some ways is nonetheless forward of its time. They did issues as a result of they hadn’t been performed, and now they do issues as a result of they’ll’t allow you to depart.
So, RIP Google Music. You have been good when you lasted, however finally what you probably did greatest was present me that we deserved higher, and we weren’t going to get it by ready round for Google to return to its roots.