November 16, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Well, would you look at that: Google went and got itself a real-life music store. After months of only letting users upload their existing music collections to Google Music Beta, music fans can now increase their listening options directly through the Android Market.
Google Music is now open to everyone in the United States thanks to a simple solution for purchasing songs and albums through the new Android Market website. After viewing today’s demo and going over the details, I decided to take the new music store for a spin to rate the purchasing process.
Spoiler alert: it’s as easy as advertised, but could do with a tad bit more complication. I searched for an artist, listened to the previews, gave Google permission to deduct $10 bucks from the credit card it already has on file, and my music was immediately available in my Google Music locker. Buying an album essentially opens access to the pre-stored files and lets users listen to a song or record within seconds of purchase.
The easy process is beneficial but there’s also an obvious drawback – where are my MP3′s in case I want to move to a non-Android device?
Well, you’ll need to mark them as available for offline storage, navigate to your cache folder, and discover that the files are all stored as RandomNumberHere.mp3. It’s an organization nightmare for anyone who doesn’t want to commit to the cloud. For the folks who haven’t jumped ship for Pandora, Spotify, and the like, purchasing albums is about controlling your music collection. How can we do that with confidence if Google doesn’t provide easy access to the files we just purchased? For many, it might make more sense to keep purchasing from Amazon and uploading to Google through the auto-download desktop tool. UPDATE: Thanks to Cynic for pointing out that you can download all your recently purchased tracks using the Google Music desktop app that has been updated to enable that feature. Google’s set-up is not as simple as some rivals, but it’s a lot better than we originally thought.
I’ve seen people call this Google’s alternative to iTunes but that’s not exactly true. iTunes sells you a song and then puts the onus on you to store it and load it or use iTunes Cloud. Google Music simply starts the stream and lets you share with friends on Google Plus. It’s a fantastic solution for people who commit to the cloud – Google’s cloud to be specific – but it takes a little bit more work if you want easy portability and control of your music. Here’s a quick video I put together of the purchasing process and a look at the Market website.