If you prefer to access your own music collection rather than use a streaming service, Google has a plan for you: It is now allowing users to store up to 50,000 of their own song files in Google Play Music for free. And from there, you can access those songs from any compatible phone, tablet, or PC.
How good a deal is this? By comparison, Amazon lets you upload 250 songs to Amazon Music for free, and you can upgrade to 250,000 songs for $25 per year. Microsoft’s Xbox Music does not provide free cloud storage of your music collection, but you can match some of your own music to Xbox Music Store and access it from other devices if you pay for Xbox Music Pass, which costs $99.99 per year.
From a Windows user’s perspective, of course, Google Play Music has some downsides. On Windows tablets and PCs, you can only access the service via a web browser (though it provides a Music Uploader app for importing your music, of course). And if you’re on Windows Phone, you’re out of luck: You can’t access Google Play Music from Windows Phone at all, on the web or via a native app.
Google makes Music apps for Android (of course), and iPhone and iPad, and you can of course stream your music through your HDTV and home theater using Chromecast.
To get started with Google Play Music, visit the service on the web and sign in with your Google account. You’ll see a notification about the new upload limit.
To add your music to Google Play Music, just click the Add Music button (in Chrome) and drag and drop. Or, if you’re using another browser, you will be prompted to download the Music Manager application, which can automate this process for you, importing your iTunes or Windows Media Player collections, or whatever folder(s) of music you wish to upload.
Google also offers a streaming music service that lets you stream all of the music in the Google Play Music Store to the web and compatible devices and apps, much like Spotify of Xbox Music Pass. This service costs $9.99 per month.