Ever wanted to move your music collection, or listen to it from anywhere in the world without having to re-download all those tracks? Well, now you can…sort of. Google is bringing us the Google Music hub (beta right now) so that we can have a central location to listen, stream, categorize, and (I use the term loosely) store our music. But what’s it mean for the end user? Well, let’s find out.

Right now you need an invite from Google to get into the service. That’s not hard; head on over to http://music.google.com and click the learn more button and sign-up for an email for when they do the next round of invites.

So what exactly does this new service do? Well, to put it simply, stores your music so that you can stream it to your computer from any location, assuming that you have an active internet connection. The way they do it is that you open your Google Music account either on your Android powered device or your computers internet browser and then you click on the album, song, playlist, etc. you want to listen to and it’ll stream the music to your. This is a great service for anyone who might have a wickedly large music collection in iTunes at home and wants to listen to it at work or at a friends house. It even lets you create your own playlists, either manually, or auto-generating them based on the type of music you’re listening to (kind of like Pandora).

You can literally store any music you have on Google Music. To add music, you either have to use the Android App or the installable application for your computer. Once installed on your computer, you tell it what kind of music library you want to scan and start adding music to your online account from: either iTunes, Media Player/Media Library, or a specific folder. Once set, it will sync your collection and then start uploading it at once. To listen to it, all you need to do is pop open a browser (or the app), click the song/album/item/etc. and then press the play button. Your entire collection will begin streaming directly to you.

Random Con

There are some downsides, though. Remember when I said it “stores” your music? Well, it does, but once your music is in Google, you can’t get it back. All you can do is delete it. So if you’re looking for a way to archive your music and then put the physical files on another computer, sorry, not going to happen. Or let’s say your sending your collection of music on your work computer to Google Music, well, when you get home you WILL NOT be able to DOWNLOAD the music, you’ll only be able to listen to it.

Another issue is that it could somewhat messy. If your ID3 tags (the bits of data encoded in your music files that tell your mp3 players and computers what you’re listening to are) aren’t set correctly for all of your files, you’re likely to have 3 different albums. For example, I have 3 songs that belong to “Album XYZ” but the album id3 tag of the mp3 files are “Album XYZ” for song 1, “AlbumĀ  XYZ” for song 2 (see the extra space in there), and “album xyz” for song 3. I upload them to Google Music. When I look a the Albums, I’ll see three albums. It can get pretty messy, real quick.

Random Pro

Google Music doesn’t seems to accept pretty much any kind of taggable music file, which is good, but that may change as things go on.

Also, there doesn’t seem to be any judgement from Google Music as to where the music came from. iTunes, Napster, LimeWire, Ripped, Torrents…it doesn’t matter. If it’s a music file, Google Music will take it.

 

 

All in all, I guess it’s not a bad service. I wish the application on the computer was a bit better and more laid out. Maybe that will happen in the coming months while the service runs its course. Although, for a beginning service, it does have some pretty snazzy potential.

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