Google Music’s Free Scan and Match Feature Comes to the U.S.

Google Music has just made it easier to get started with a new scan and match feature for storing your music online. After hitting Europe last month, it's available now to U.S. users as well.

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Jared Newman / TIME.com

Google Music, a useful service that no one’s using, has just made it easier to get started with a new scan and match feature for storing your music online. After hitting Europe last month, it’s available now to U.S. users as well.

Just like Apple’s iTunes Match and Amazon’s scan and match service, Google Music now compares your local music library with its own database of songs. When it finds a match, Google places its copy of that song in your online library, then it uploads any remaining songs that it can’t match. A lightweight piece of software called Music Manager handles all the syncing.

Once your songs are stored in Google Music, they’re available for streaming at 320 kbps through play.google.com/music, and through the Google Play Music app for Android. Unofficial apps are also available for iOS (I’m partial to gMusic) and Windows Phone (try Gooroovster).

The big difference between Google and its competitors is that Google doesn’t charge for the service, so you can scan and store up to 20,000 songs online without paying yearly dues. Apple charges $25 per year to scan and match up to 25,000 songs, and Amazon charges the same for 250,000 songs, beyond a free offering of 250 tracks. All three services offer free storage for any songs you’ve purchased through their respective music stores.

The biggest potential downside with Google Music is that it relies on an Internet connection to access your music. On phones and tablets, you can download individual songs, albums, artists or playlists for offline listening, but there’s no easy way to bulk download your entire library onto mobile devices. If you have a tiny data plan or live in an area with unreliable service, that can be a problem.

The flip side, however, is that your music library doesn’t have to hog all the storage space on your phone or tablet. If you have the bandwidth, the fact that Google Music is Internet-based is actually beneficial.

For existing users, Google says it’ll start automatically matching libraries against its own in “the next few months.” The other option is to delete all your songs through Google Music settings, then re-upload them through the Music Manager software. You may have to click “Change” under the “Advanced” tab in the Music Manager software if your songs are stored outside your computer’s default music folder.

I wouldn’t recommend going that route, though. To check out the new feature, I deleted my songs from Google Music and then re-scanned my library. Google Music only scanned the first few hundred songs before falling back on uploads for the remaining couple thousand tracks, including popular music that I’d expect be recognized. Google doesn’t provide any way to see a list of all tracks that were scanned vs. uploaded; the only way to find matched tracks is to look for a “Fix Incorrect Match” prompt in each song’s options list. If you’re looking to swap out all your old MP3s for 320 kbps copies, Google Music may not have you covered just yet.

According to All Things Digital, Google is paying big up-front checks to record labels for the scan-and-match service instead of paying a fee per user, as Amazon and Apple do. By giving away the service and eating the cost, Google is likely hoping to jump-start its MP3 store, which may be an easier task now that all the major labels are on board. Still, the service works just fine if you haven’t purchased music from Google Play, and never intend to do so. It’s worth setting up if you want easy access to your music from any device with an Internet connection.

8 comments
SteveCoakley
SteveCoakley

Why is everyone reporting this same fake story?  Google has no such thing!  I tried it and all it does is upload your MP3 files to the cloud, which takes forever!  Then, since it doesn't know what any of them are it makes a different album for each song called Unknown so you end up with a big mess of hundreds of Unknown albums with just one song in each one!  It never did finish so erased the whole mess!

dephiros
dephiros

In regard to "bulk download" song, I have been frustrated with that missing feature for a while. However, with the recently updated google music on Android, I have found a way around it. You can put all your exist song into a playlist. On your android Google Music app, you can select "offline" option for the previously created playlist as well as "free and purchased" playlist for any future songs you purchased on google plus

ukjaybrat
ukjaybrat

@dephiros Yeah that's what i do. Until there is a desktop equivalent akin to itunes, i usually use itunes to manage the music and upload what i want to listen to the servers (for now) i have all of my music (3 stars or better) in one playlist. makes it real easy.

ukjaybrat
ukjaybrat

in regard to your whole last paragraph (another reason Google may have offered this service for free):

Let's assume you have 10 million customers with 20,000 songs each. of those 20,000 songs, let's pretend 10% of them are on everyone's playlist (i know this is a little far fetched as different people have different tastes in music). 10 million people all have the same 2000 songs. that is 20 Billion copies of the same song. If however all of those people use the matching service, all 10 million people are sharing the same copy of the song. Effectively it gets all the duplicate data off Google databases. Which decreases compute time and storage space required to store all of Google's customers' music.

PetrF
PetrF

@ukjaybrat I'll follow with your point... In which case Google is probably making a saving with Scan & Match even by paying up front .

johnnyt74
johnnyt74

Can you play music from iphone ios safari web browser at www.google.com/msuic?

MauricioMoralesK
MauricioMoralesK

@johnnyt74 Yea, you can, google music is accessible pretty much from everywhere. If you have an iPhone 3G or above (maybe an older one too) you can access the web app and play your music, it's actually a pretty good interface too. If you have a newer device, (iOS 5.0 and up) you can download one of the several third party apps from the app store, some of them are free.

I really love this service. I have an old android phone I don't use anymore that I didn't sell when I should have and now it was just collecting dust. I basicaly hooked it up to a speaker system in my house and always connected to my home's wifi. Now every song I download to any of our computers, from any source, will instantly be avialable in that phone and be able to be played throughout my whole house.

JasmineW
JasmineW

Google Music service is amazing! I actually have an Apple Nano and music I had on their is on my laptop. When I found out I could scan the music from Itunes to Google Music I decided to give it a try. I love it. Especially since I do pay the extra fee and have upgraded to 25 gigs storage. Being able to play my music to my android phone or tablet is a god send. LOVE this service. The fact that if I buy anymore music from Itunes or download music to my laptop and the Google Music will automatically do a scan and then transfer it over is wonderful. Hands down an amazing service. Use it all the time when I go workout and it syncs wonderfully with my workout app, Endomondo.