Google Play No Longer Sells Music

Posted on October 13, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Google Play Music, YouTube Music with 36 Comments

As part of its phased migration from Google Play Music to YouTube Music, Google no longer sells music from its Play Store.

“The Music store on Google Play is no longer available,” Google explains on the web version of its store. “To continue listening to your Play Music library, transfer your library to YouTube Music. You can also download your data via Google Takeout or delete your data through your Play Music account settings.”

Granted, this was telegraphed months in advance: Google has been plotting this transition for years, and it replaced Google Play Music with YouTube Music in Android a year ago and then began migrating users to the new service in May.

But it is perhaps notable that Google will no longer sell music and is moving instead to a fully streaming-based model for music. That leaves on Apple and Amazon as major players in digital music sales. And of the two, only Apple offers a full slate of music services, with streaming (Apple Music), purchasing (iTunes), and uploading (iTunes Match) capabilities.

Google, for its part, now only offers streaming and uploading, the latter via the new and pretty basic capability on the web. You can learn more about how that works from the YouTube Music Help site.

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (41)

41 responses to “Google Play No Longer Sells Music”

  1. Lauren Glenn

    Yeah, I never buy music from there unless I can't find it anywhere else. Apple usually has everything and if I want hi-res, I go to Qobuz. Qobuz has unlimited downloads of purchased content and you can buy tracks individually also.

    So, yet another Google product bites the dust.

  2. scovious

    This will be quite interesting when YouTube and Alphabet are forced to split up.

    • solomonrex

      In reply to scovious:

      They won't be in the music business much longer anyway. They were always a also-ran, I found them compelling, but still. No one is happy about this move except some executive at Youtube, it's not hyperbole to already describe this as an unforced error.

      I'm sure Google Play Music was losing popularity and possibly a cost center, but this move didn't improve anything for consumers, based on every comment I've read. People might use Youtube to listen to music for free, but that doesn't make it a good streaming service.

  3. martinusv2

    So if I want to buy music and have .mp3, have to go to Apple?

  4. glenn8878

    Buying music is for suckers who would watch their investments blow up. This is also true for books and movies. You can't trust the major tech oligarchs to protect consumers' interest and investments.

  5. ccarswell

    There are key pieces of music specifically albums that I love and want them available whenever where ever I chose to listen to them. So if I am somewhere with horrible internet connection I can save the music to a usb and listen to it in my car. Music saved to my Fitbit to listen to while hiking. There is a market for owners, it may not be big but there is a market.

  6. hecticpolecat

    I think the best description of YouTube Music is that it is the Fisher Price of music services. The list of user abusive changes made by Google grows...

  7. solomonrex

    I knew they were moving me to 'youtube music' and hoped that the transition would last long enough that they would cancel that project (ha!). But, alas. Still, I didn't realize that they wouldn't sell music afterwards.

    I do wonder if all these subscriptions and the Trump thing - are we reliving some weird digital form of the dark ages/feudalism again? Have we all underestimated how much consumer ownership created accountability for power in society? I totally see the value in subscriptions, but so many things have had unintended consequences in America esp.

  8. brettscoast

    I too prefer YouTube music subscription to Spotify, it works very well.

  9. abrarey

    So far for me is being very good. I have the family plan and while I was a bit skeptic at the beginning with the move because early versions of YTM was a bit disappointing, but I made the move about 2 or 3 months ago and is being very good so far and even providing music suggestions that were not available on GPM. Also, you get YouTube videos with no ads and for me that beats most of the competition.

  10. wright_is

    Given the dissatisfaction I've been hearing with people who have moved to YouTube Music, this is sad news.

    One of the biggest problems seems to be kids accounts can't go over to YTM and if you change the DoB of the child, so it will work on YTM, the account will be barred for ever! (Letter of the week on All About Android last week)

    It sounds like YTM is only half finished and they are pushing people over anyway.

    • gregsedwards

      In reply to wright_is:

      I completely agree that YT needs to take a more flexible approach to their kid policies. As a parent, if you decide you want to your kids to have access to YT, then they should stop forcing you to YTK. You should be able to regulate content viewing permissions without requiring a completely separate app experience.

  11. thretosix

    This has been nothing but utter disaster. It's a total downgrade from Google Play music. Even to play your files on your phone over your home network through YTMusic it requires a premium service subscription. I'm not sure what Google was thinking on this one.

  12. Cavorter

    The issue I'm having with this is being down to two sources for purchasing most music that I don't do business with if I can help it. Streaming unfortunately doesn't really support the artists the way a purchase does. In some cases at least the artists will have something on Patreon but that's kind of a different thing too.

    Might have to bite the bullet and actually use iTunes. Ugh!

  13. SvenJ

    Maybe MS could start a music service, where you could stream, but also buy music. Bought music could be stored on OneDrive for easy access as well as via the music app. Maybe they could have some incentive like being able to keep maybe 10 tracks a month if you subscribe. Could stand some competition in this space.

  14. jimchamplin

    Google Play Music was an excellent service. Since I often am switching between platforms, it was nice to have a fully featured service that worked beautifully through the browser. YouTube Music on the other hand is complete garbage.

    • gregsedwards

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Garbage? I know some of the GPM features might be lacking, but coming from Spotify, I've found it to be a capable alternative. I like the integration with YT for music videos. The ability to find/play YT user-uploaded videos as music is nifty; for instance, I'm a Jackson Browne fan, and I've found a lot of his old concert recordings available through YTM. And being able to like artists across YT and YTM is handy. It's nice to hear some different content for artists I've thoroughly worn out on Spotify. And unlike Spotify, I can actually upload my personal music collection to fill in the gaps.

  15. F4IL

    I have no idea how many people still buy digital downloads. The only people I know who still purchase music are vinyl record collectors. The vast majority probably relies on streaming but I could be wrong.

    • jgraebner

      In reply to F4IL:

      Probably true. I know my teenage son can't imagine buying music instead of just using a streaming service.

      I do still buy a lot of music, but that has a lot to due with my specific music tastes. I particularly enjoy film scores. There is definitely a market for that, but outside of the big mainstream hits (Star Wars, Disney, Titanic, etc.), it's a niche market of collectors that probably count in the 5 digit range. While there is quite a bit available on the streaming services, the catalog isn't especially deep and titles can come and go as labels don't always see it viable to renew licenses. I have switched to buying new releases digitally (preferably CD quality or high-res), but I do still purchase as there is a fair chance that the music won't be available via streaming a year or two down the road.

      I also still buy CDs. There are several specialty labels that primarily sell catalog film and TV scores that either have never been released before or that they offer in expanded/remastered editions. One quirk of the genre is that licensing costs from the studios and re-use fees paid to unions (basically paying the musicians for releasing the music outside of the original film) make it only viable to release titles in limited quantities on physical media. In other words, this is a genre where there are still regularly brand new releases that are only available on CD (and sometimes LP) but not digitally or via streaming.

      I would imagine there are probably other specialized genres that similarly are not well served by streaming subscriptions. Going forward, that will likely be increasingly the primary market for music sales.

    • cmucodemonkey

      In reply to F4IL: I have no idea how many people still buy digital downloads.

      I know I'm definitely in the minority, but I still buy music in MP3 format. I don't buy new music all that often and I have a rather large collection of digital music, so for me it doesn't make sense to pay every month to stream music when I can just listen to what I have and occasionally pay to buy more.

      • kb923689

        In reply to cmucodemonkey:

        I agree. I listen to the same music for 10 years. It's cheaper to buy the few new albums I find interesting than paying a subscription to listen the same songs I already own...

        • solomonrex

          In reply to kb923689:

          Most people listen to old music, even kids. But it's so much easier to use a streaming service for discovery and costs, it eliminates the bogus benefit/cost calculation for purchasing music, and keeps you in the loop in your social circle.

          But for many of us on Thurrott (of a certain age) with established libraries, and many of us with weird/local music files, there will be no more all-in-one software suite for us. Apple still works for us, but I doubt for long. MP3 ownership and libraries will probably be moved to 'pro' suites for them, and open source for everyone else.

Leave a Reply