I signed up a while back to get the beta version of Google’s new cloud based music system. My inbox finally welcomed me to the beta with a link to get started.
First of all, I just don’t get all this cloud based music stuff. Do Apple, Amazon, and Google know something about the price of storage that none of us do? Is it going to change course and get really expensive? I mean, think about it. The whole idea of this cloud based music thing is that you load all your music into the cloud, then you can access it anywhere you have an internet connection.
I’ve ripped over 700 of my CDs in AIFF, the most space intensive way to store music. As you can see from my iTunes shot, these 13,510 songs take up barely more than ½ a Terabit. If storage keeps to its same path of being cheaper and more for the money, I would bet in a couple of years, this will all fit on a thumb drive. Heck, for $17.99 I can get one with 15% of this amount of storage right now. We’ll probably see phones with much more storage as well.
I then thought: when is it that I am not connected to my network that I want to access my music? Let’s see - not at home means travel. Travel means airplanes. So how am I going to stream music to my iPhone when I am in an airplane? In most cases, it’s not going to happen. If I’m in my hotel room, I can plug in my thumb drive or have my music mirrored to my laptop computer. And heck, I think the idea of streaming music is all about discovering new music. Rhapsody, Pandora, Spotify, and more have figured this out already.
Anyway, I downloaded and agreed to all kinds of stuff to try out the beta. I think this might be worse than the first Google TV. First, try as I might, I could never get more than about 100 songs to load. I even tried pointing to the album folders alone and it would just not load them up. It shows from the screen shot you see here that it only loaded 2 songs and missed 131 out of the folder that contains my 13,510 songs. I hope this is a beta bug.
The navigation is very rudimentary compared to iTunes or JRiver. It’s pretty similar to the Amazon version. It does try to copy Pandora with the thumbs up/down concept. One pretty interesting thing: when I first loaded it up, it asked if I wanted to be exposed to some music I did not own and asked for the categories. Well, about 30 songs loaded up, and I actually liked a couple of them, but guess what? Google, the masters of click to buy, do not have a way for me to purchase them!
Another bug I found is if I click on the add music button, it takes me to the screen to download the music manager, even though I have already downloaded and installed it, another bug, but for a company the size of Google, this just seems so silly to miss.
So, how does it sound? Not bad actually, it does down rez high bit rate files to 328kbs though. This results in a degradation, but it’s not too bad.
I just don’t see the draw to any of this cloud music. The Rhapsody and Moog concept where I can access any one of millions of songs I do not own is a killer idea. Grooveshark even lets me choose the songs I want and streams, in some cases at the same bit rate. If I have an internet connection and want to hear music, these are great choices. I just can’t figure out why anyone would want to put their music in the cloud, when right now they can probably store most of it on their phone anyway!
I decided to ask my 20 year old son for his thoughts on it and got an interesting other viewpoint. He does not want his phone cluttered up with music. He needs the room for storing pictures and all of the apps he uses. He just uses Grooveshark, and to my knowledge has never bought a CD in his life (mostly because he likes my music). So he would have nothing to load up to the Google cloud anyway.
Perhaps, this is not just about music. It’s possible this is a Trojan horse. The future may be about being the data repository for all of our files. This may just be the first step to try and hook people and make it easy. I can see this: if everything you need is in the Google or upcoming Apple cloud world that you navigate on the same web page, then you can see the Trojan horse rearing its head!
Hopefully Google will fix the bug that is not allowing me to upload all of my music, but for now, I’m going to pass.