A few weeks ago – over a month ago, actually – I received an invitation for Google Music Beta to try it out. It’s still, guess what, in beta and only accessible with an invite, and furthermore is a U.S. only service. In fact, only people in the United States can request an invitation, but if you manage to get it, the service is available worldwide, so it took me only a proxy to get into the service. There’s also an Android app that allows music to be streamed or saved to the device for offline use, while there’s no iOS app. Even the Android app can be officially downloaded from the U.S. Android Market, but the web is full of APKs that can be easily installed. Well, at this point Google, why make it so hard to use the service? There are no barriers for geeks.
Anyway, Google Music Beta is a good product, directly competing with other streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Grooveshark, Amazon Cloud Player and the coming Apple iCloud. It’s not a streaming service by definition, though: it comes with some 300 free songs but the rest of your library has to be uploaded trough an application called Music Manager and it could take days if not weeks to finish, so it’s not the best experience. For my part I’m an avid Spotify user and I still prefer it over all the other listed services, I’m a Spotify Premium subscriber paying €9.99 per month and I have always access to a library of 10 millions songs constantly updated with the newest songs, there’s the Mac app where I can decide which playlists make available offline and there’s the Android app which does the same things, I can take my music pretty much everywhere. Another feature I use a lot is the scrobbling capability to Last.fm, so my profile is always up to date with my musical taste. With Spotify, this feature comes natively.
Google has to work hard if it wants Music Beta to go mainstream, competition at the moment is fierce, but it’s on the good direction.
Here’s a few screenshots I took when I received the invitation.