Tip: Use Your Own Music in Spotify

Posted on April 3, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Groove Music, Music + Videos, Spotify with 28 Comments

With Microsoft scaling back its Groove efforts over time, many in the Microsoft community are looking to Spotify as a replacement. And the leading music subscription service, Spotify has a lot to offer: An enormous cloud-based music catalog, compatibility across PCs and mobile devices, and even family-friendly pricing.

But Spotify comes up short in two areas that are/were key to Groove users.

First, it doesn’t support OneDrive: With Groove, we’ve been able to store our own music collections—ripped from CD or purchased digitally and then downloaded—in OneDrive and then stream that music via the Groove app in Windows 10. This capability was recently removed from Groove, sadly, leading many to wonder whether the Groove app would be retired completely since it’s now next-to-useless. (You can still use Groove to play back music stored on your PC or home network, of course.)

Second, it doesn’t easily allow you to mix and match your own music collection with the tens of millions of songs that are available in the service’s cloud library (which requires a subscription). This is useful because Groove’s Music Pass collection (which is no longer available), like Spotify’s today, doesn’t necessarily include all of your music. So it’s nice to be able to access all of the music you wish to listen to, create playlists that use music from both locations, and make it all available offline on mobile devices.

Both of these shortcomings speak to what I believe is a major part of the potential user base for any music service. And this is particularly problematic for the Microsoft community, in particular, which I believe skews a bit older than, say, the typical Spotify audience. That is, unlike my kids, who are perfectly happy with Spotify as it is, I grew up with music that’s not available there, I’ve ripped tons of my own music from CDs, and I’d like to still be able to access that alongside whatever is available online from Spotify. And I don’t think I’m alone.

I can’t help too much with the OneDrive issue. Spotify will likely never offer the ability to stream music from OneDrive or offer any other way to integrate a OneDrive-based music collection with its own. If you are firmly in the old-school camp, you can simply copy your music collection to whatever PCs or devices you’re using and play that music using Groove or whatever other app you prefer. And if you are storing music in OneDrive as part of a step into what you felt was an inevitable future, you can at least sync that part of OneDrive to your PC to access from it Groove now. It’s still there. It just can’t be streamed.

But the bigger issue, I think, is that mix and matching of your own collection with that from Spotify.

As it turns out, you can, in fact, do this. It’s just not as simple or seamless as it was with Groove and Groove Music Pass. That’s especially true if you want to get that music on your phone or other mobile device. And wish to mix and match songs from both collections (yours and Spotify’s) in playlists.

Here’s how it works.

First, you need to be using a paid version of Spotify (Spotify Premium, Family, and so on). You can’t use your own music with the free, ad-supported version of Spotify.

Now, copy the music files you wish to access in Spotify to an obvious location in Windows 10. (I chose the Music folder and experimented with a small number of music files that I have that are not available in the Spotify library.)

Then, open Spotify and navigate to Menu > Edit > Preferences. Scroll down to Local Files and enable “Show Local Files.” When you do, you’ll see that two file locations are enabled by default: The Downloads folder and your Music Library (which includes the Music folder I’m using). You can disable either, if you’d like, or add a new location. (I disabled Downloads.)

To make sure your music is available to the Spotify app in Windows 10, navigate to Local Files under Your Library in the pane in the left of the app.

You should be able to play these songs normally and add them to playlists alongside songs from Spotify’s catalog. To test this, I created a playlist called Local + Cloud and added all of the locally-available songs. Then I added a few songs from Spotify’s catalog, too. (The image will eventually fill in with an album art grid.)

The trick, of course, is making these songs visible in Spotify on your handset or other mobile device. To make that work, the device must be on the same network as your PC. And Spotify must be running on the PC.

To see that it’s working, open Spotify on your mobile device and navigate to Your Library > Playlists. You should see the playlist (Local + Cloud in my case) there with the correct song count.

Now, open that playlist and select the Download button to make those songs available when the device is offline or disconnected from the Spotify app in Windows 10 over your home network.

To test this, I closed Spotify in Windows 10. And then put the phone into Airplane mode. Everything seems to work fine.

The question, of course, is what happens over time: Adding and editing playlists might become ponderous. To see what this might be like, I added a new local song file to my Music folder in Windows 10, opened Spotify, and added that to the Local + Cloud playlist. Then, I took the phone out of Airplane mode and opened Spotify there.

And … The new song didn’t show up. I tried disabling the playlist download and then re-enabling it—which would be problematic with long playlists, of course—but that didn’t help. My guess is that it will work eventually. But if you want to rely on this thing, you’ll need to make sure the playlist(s) are where you want them before syncing to mobile. It’s just not as seamless as Groove used to be.

You might also consider using a different service, of course. As I recommended earlier, Google Play Music is the superior choice for those who wish to mix and match their own music collections with cloud-based libraries. In fact, Google Play Music is the superior choice if all you want to do is stream your own music from the cloud (and forego the subscription-based library): It lets you upload an astonishing 50,000 songs for free.

Those in the Apple camp can also consider Apple’s services: Apple Music for the subscription service and iTunes Match, which is $25 per year, for cloud-based access to your own music library. As with Google Play Music, you can mix and match between the two if needed.

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Tip: Use Your Own Music in Spotify”

  1. Avatar

    kazzed

    I use Google Play Music, because it solves this problem of integrating my personal music collection (including songs not available on GPM) with the subscription library, and it works seamlessly, as Paul is trying to do here. It doesn't directly connect to a cloud storage environment - there is the initial step of uploading your local collection to Google's cloud, but after that it works great. There are reasons that I would't call GPM perfect, but in this regard it is much better than Spotify.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      In reply to kazzed:

      I do too. And I do recommend this over Spotify. It's just that so many people do use Spotify, and this process isn't very good.

      • Avatar

        George Rae

        In reply to paul-thurrott:
        i have subscribed to GPM since the beginning, with YouTube premium and YouTube music included it’s a nobrainer, tinfoil hats just move along. The service is frustrating to use, no easy way to delete duplicates, as an example. The typical Google “let it rot” with no updates, while chasing the new shiny toy. I rarely use GPM my choice is YouTube music. The combo of Spotify plus Hulu with GPM plus YouTube for $20 works for me.


  2. Avatar

    Red09

    I tried out the Spotify premium after Groove was cancelled using the above method to try and use my own MP3s but it just didn't work for me sadly. It seems to be very picky on the type of MP3s that it would import. I had a few WMAs too and converted those but still didn't like it. I cancelled in the end after not really getting anywhere with tech support. I had noticed that the quality on some tracks with Spotify wasn't really that great either. It was ok for general use with headphones and running to but noticeably different when played at home through a half decent AV setup.


    I might give Google Play Music a go though so thanks for the tip on that.

  3. Avatar

    zahrobsky

    Plex server is a great alternative for your local music. Not hard to set up a server and then you can access all your local music offline or online with multiple devices.


    http:/www.plex.tv




  4. Avatar

    cayo

    This problem is easy to resolve and not too expensive. I use CloudBeats on iOS. My music is still on OneDrive and I can easily pick the albums I want to play offline. It is actually better than Groove as I can use my OneDrive for Business as well. Offline is a paid feature, but if a waitress gets a tip for bringing you your steak...I guess the programmer deserves at least half this amount.

  5. Avatar

    Atoqir

    While reading the comments on this Microsoft site I didn’t expect so many Apple Music comments. I switched to that service too because of my own huge library of soundtracks. Only downer is iTunes on Windows.

  6. Avatar

    ebernet

    What is funny here is how much you are all struggling to make something work when Apple Music and iTunes does this beautifully - all because of a hate of iTunes. My iTunes at home plays my 24x96 high res audio files that I have bought from drm free music sharing services (nugs.net, livephish) or that I recorded myself, or that I ripped myself, and I get to take them anywhere outside my house at 256 AAC. All this seemless and included. And it works on windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Alexa, Sonos, appleTV, 3rd party smart TVs and more all the time. Apple has supported audio for over 15 years without shutting down a music service (unlike Google, Microsoft, blah blah blah blah service). I KNOW many of you hate Apple, but they have ALWAYS loved music and do a damn fine job of making THAT part of their business work well.... AND that music storage for your songs that are not in Apple Music but that you need to upload are not a separate file storage fee like paying for one drive is...

    And the complaint about lo res. Yes Apple Music streaming is 256 m4a while Spotify is 320 ogg vorbis if you use their desktop player, and the same 256 m4a otherwise. If your concern is to mix and match your lossless audio at home this is NOT a concern, and 256 m4a vs 320 ogg away from the home and on streaming devices i have yet to meet someone who can tell the difference...


    oh and now you can use a variety of web based frontends on PCs and Macs so while you may need iTunes on a desktop (Mac or windows) for management, you don’t need that for playback...

    • Avatar

      Atoqir

      In reply to ebernet:

      You actually do need iTunes for playback if you want to play your own uploaded song.


      The streaming part of Apple Music is open through the MusicKit API. But the iCloud Music Library isn’t yet and while you can see the songs on the web you cannot play them.


      I use the same setup as you and it is awesome on my iPad and iPhone the Windows experience is ugly, lagging and has a few hickups. But it is the best there is at this moment.

      • Avatar

        GetEdumated

        In reply to Atoqir:

        I don't understand your comment. You have to use iTunes in order to upload your songs but iCloud songs are available everywhere. I have my own original music uploaded and my Apple Music Android app plays it fine.


        As far as I can tell, no web player exists at all. What are you referring to?

      • Avatar

        ebernet

        In reply to Atoqir:

        Or you can use a web based interface like https://musi.sh

        I have had no problem seeing and playing my uploaded music through a web browser using that.

        Also if your device fully supports airplay 2 and you have an iOS device, you can choose what to play on it via iTunes and then switch back to using your iOS device.

        And lastly, if you are able to figure out how to properly call it (my uploaded stuff is usually yyyy/mm/dd City, ST - Venue) I can get it to play via voice on Alexa, etc. It's just trickier then when it is matched and I can just say "Play The Dark Side OF The Moon by Pink Floyd", but you can get it to work...


        https://imgur.com/zAoKQ4i

  7. Avatar

    GetEdumated

    Apple Music is the better alternative for mixing in your own music- except that you have to use iTunes and that service streams at a lower quality.


    My biggest complaint about Spotify is they removed the ability to browse by artist. This is absolutely insane and makes it very difficult to find something to listen to if you don't have something in mind already. This channels you into listening to fewer artists since it's impossible to remember more than a dozen or so whenever you want to put something on.

  8. Avatar

    stimshady

    I still use Zune Player - still one of the best for personally held music. Then I just switch to Spotify for everything else. Zune is only good at home of course, not on the move.

    • Avatar

      PanamaVet

      In reply to stimshady:

      I have over 3,000 songs on my Zune HD, plenty for mobile listening. I just purchased a new battery for it. I unscrewed the back and replaced the battery once so far, This new battery is just thinking ahead.


      I marvel at the sound coming out of the Nvidia Tegra HD 8 core brain. The headphone amp produces a wonderful HD experience.


      I have an iPhone 8 and I discovered that Apple does not support APTX HD audio on Bluetooth. Apple does support APTX HD audio transmission on other mobile devices they sell. Now why would Apple purposely take that away from their customers on an expensive device? I feel like Apple hates us.


  9. Avatar

    bluvg

    I still think this is Google's game to lose. YouTube Music offers a great deal of music not available anywhere else. Once they integrate Play Music's personal library--and hopefully update the YouTube Music app, which is rather awful as a music player at the moment--I don't see much competition (aside from some specialty services).

  10. Avatar

    brettscoast

    Thanks for that post Paul. Its too bad about groove your solution seems like a decent compromise if not perfect

  11. Avatar

    Stooks

    "To make that work, the device must be on the same network as your PC. And Spotify must be running on the PC."


    Is this a joke? So the minute you walk out of your house all of your music wont work.


    Apple Music will cloud match your local library. Apple Music is on iOS, MacOS, Windows and Android. No hoky setup needed.

    • Avatar

      ssr

      In reply to Stooks:

      Stooks, read the article again: "Now, open that playlist and select the Download button to make those songs available when the device is offline or disconnected from the Spotify app in Windows 10 over your home network."

      I agree, not as seamless as Apple Music, but at least it makes Spotify a closer competitor.

    • Avatar

      mestiphal

      In reply to Stooks:

      The same can be said about Google Play Music, where you upload your music collection, if it matches it's free, if there is no match you still have a 50,000 song bucket... more than enough for the average Joe.


      But I'm pretty sure this article was directed for the Spotify uses that have no interest in Apple Music or Google Play Music

  12. Avatar

    eeisner

    I'm that rare 25 year old who has a large collection of local music, both of burned CD's that are probably available in streaming libraries (although a lot of classic rock like Dylan, The Beatles, and AC/DC held out for a long time) and ripped concerts I've downloaded from places like the Internet Archive and Reddit. I'm also a proponent of actually buying music for bands I like to support them and I have a collection of vinyl (don't hate me), but that's a different point.


    I've stayed far away from Spotify mainly because their integration with local music is absolutely terrible. Although I have all of my music stored in my OneDrive, I never really used Groove Music, either. Mainly because the integration of local music and streamed music in Google Play Music is so seamless you can't tell which is which when scrolling through your collection and playing your music - I've been using the service since they announced it, and have no plans of switching. My only complaint with Google Play Music is that they insist on doing everything via a web interface, although their interface has come so far from where it was a few years back and I now really have no issues with lag, buffering, or any other bugs. As with everyone else these days, I fear the day Google decides that they decide Play Music isn't worth it and they shut it down. For a lot of reasons, Spotify is trash and I really don't want to have to use them.

  13. Avatar

    mattdur

    I wouldn't recommend Google Play Music, since it will be discontinued sometime in 2019 and replaced with YouTube Music.

    User uploads should arrive in YouTube Music by then, but seeing how Google handled the end of life of Inbox I wouldn't be so sure about it.

    • Avatar

      ssr

      In reply to mattdur:

      Google Play Music has a limit of 1,000 tracks in a playlist, which is a dealbreaker for me as I have a playlist of favourite tracks that's wayyyyyy in excess of that. There's a long old thread on their request forum, but they've not updated it.

  14. Avatar

    Trickyd

    Interesting and a good point for Spotify. I also have hundreds of ripped cd's plus downloaded lossless files and presently use (and love) Tidal the sound quality is excellent and its a great way to discover new music and check out reviewed music etc. Tidal seems to have no way at present to do this and you have to interoperate with something like Plex to get a similar effect.


    My biggest niggle with Streaming services is car support, typically I have had all my music on an old 160Gb ipod , and when that filled up a 512Gb usb stick , but moving to streaming its difficult to to get that in the car at decent quality - you can download playlists etc to your phone but you have to play them through the app which then restricts you to bluetooth connection to the car which tends to be noticeably poorer quality and a thin sound or via an aux connection which is better than bluetooth but worse than a USB digital connection.

  15. Avatar

    nalenb

    The Apple Music subscription includes Match, so you don’t need to pay for it separately.


    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204146


  16. Avatar

    ivarh

    You can access upload/match your local music with just a apple music subscription and no match. The only difference is that you you cannot download that music (that you matched/uploaded) in drm free format. So you better back up your music in addition. If you stop subscribing to apple music the matched/uploaded music becomes inaccessible.

  17. Avatar

    jbinaz

    I love the Rock Sugar stuff in your collection. That is some good, fun stuff!

  18. Avatar

    kjb434

    This was an automatic process when you switched from a paid Groove subscription to Spotify. MS did a good job. The only issues is with special live recordings or remixes not available on Spotify.

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