Quick Takes on Music Beta (by Google)

After spending quite a bit of time (and devoting a little coin of the realm) to the Amazon Cloud Drive, I received an email informing me that Google has requested me to participate in the private beta of their new music service.  I am more than a little surprised that I was included.  But who am I to complain.  It’s that much more tech to play with.

But don’t expect this post to be a complete review.  This is just a few quick takes from what I’ve seen so far.

Here are my first thoughts (in order of relative importance to me):

  • Google is offering this service for free.  And that means free.  I can store up to 20,000 songs free of charge.  Period.  This simple truth is more than worth the price of admission.  And it surely beats the pricing that Amazon is offering.  [Note: I do wonder how Google will monetize this.  I suspect that it will be context-driven ads.  But without a retail engine, where will they drive the traffic to?]
  • The music selection and loading tools are blunt instruments, at best.  You can select everything from iTunes or everything from Windows Media Player.  You can also select everything in a directory.  This is hardly a precise instrument.  You can take a big swing at everything or take no swing at all.  The crudity of this method is heart-wrenching.  With the Amazon Cloud Drive, you have far more options to selecting and loading your music.  But both tools really need to take advantage of metadata that you may already have in your music.  I want to do complex Boolean searches on tags and have the selected files loaded.
  • I really want to control the loading of all files onto the service.  I still have a bunch of files that came from unclear origins.  Don’t get me wrong, I own all the music that I have on my hard drive.  But sometimes I have downloaded songs rather than record them from LP.  And after spending years of using tools like MusicBrainz and MP3tagger, I have files with some really oddball ID3 tags.
  • I would really like more social media tools.  Thee is no Last.fm integration.  There is no way to comment and tweet those comments to my followers.  And there is absolutely no interaction with Facebook.  I really want my cloud music service to be more social.  After all, music is a community affair.  Sharing occurs within fan groups.  Even the folks at Myspace knew that.  I really think that Google should link this offering to Buzz, Wave, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Finally, where is the integration with a music retailer.  Apple (and iTunes) integrate with the Apple iTunes Music store.  And Amazon integrates with their well-established MP3 sales channel.  Without a retail engine or agreements with the labels, I am skeptical of the overall success of this offering.  I am sure that these things will be added.  But their absence in the initial product is rather troubling.

I will write a much more comprehensive review when all of my songs are loaded.  Right now, I am +4,000 files of my +6,500 song iTunes library.  Let’s see how this car drives when I have all of my clutter on board.  But for now, the truck is a good one.  It will haul my stuff.  I just need to drive it around for a while to see how it handles.


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