RIP Google Music, one of many firm’s final examples of generosity

By | November 11, 2020

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, once they generally simply made cool web issues. It made it almost 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 received an enormous library of tracks that I’ve cultivated for many years and don’t plan to desert any time quickly (likewise you may pry Winamp from my chilly, lifeless palms). So when Google announced back in 2011 I may stream all of it to myself without spending a dime, 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And certainly it was a relic of the outdated Google, which was fairly merely all about taking issues which might be troublesome to do your self (discover issues on-line, arrange a brand new electronic mail deal with, 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 adjustments 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to the music-streaming or downloading world by a protracted shot, however its promise of having the ability to add your outdated music recordsdata and entry them anyplace as in the event that they have been emails or paperwork was a surprisingly beneficiant one.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 (!) without spending a dime 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 form of legitimacy examine, they usually didn’t report you to the RIAA for having them, although they definitely may have.

No, Google Music’s free media locker was the corporate, or not less than a quorum of the product group, saying that they get it: not everybody does every little thing the identical manner, and never everybody is able to embrace no matter enterprise mannequin tech corporations 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 slightly then making an attempt 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 assumed, was a bridge between my antiquarian habits and the reducing fringe of tech.

Since then, just like the resentfully loving proprietor of a junker, over time I’ve been annoyed by Google Music within the ways in which just one who actually depends on one thing may be. The app grew to become important to me whilst 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 hearth, I may not less than recuperate my valuable MP3s.

Whether or not I’d ripped it myself, pirated it in school, purchased it on Bandcamp, or received 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 really 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 reputation as a music platform — which extra  than anything actually is because of a brand new kind of laziness and platform agnosticism peculiar to the following era — Google Music exists as a form of ghost of itself inside 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 reducing off tens of millions 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 they’d 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 offered as the more severe choice, the uploaded library perform 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 lifeless, 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 form of work from having to be carried out.

I suppose I’m an exception to the standard Google and YouTube consumer, and as I’ve been cautious to point out the corporate for the final 20 years or so, there’s no cash to be produced from me. But as quickly as I understood that Google was going to make it onerous 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 manner higher. (Come to consider it, I began paying for Feedly after Google killed Reader, too.)

In a manner I’m grateful. The thought of divorcing myself solely 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 generally 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 presumably 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 provide is sensible for me.

Each service from Google now, particularly with these new, unhealthy 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 may, throwing it within the enamel 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 carried out, and now they do issues as a result of they will’t allow you to go away.

So, RIP Google Music. You have been good when you lasted, however in the end what you probably did finest 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.

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