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Google Play Music Review: Pricing, plans and features

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Upload your personal music collection and stream it on demand.

Combining the services of Spotify and Apple Music, Google Play Music is a streaming service, storage “locker” and online store for all things sound.

30 Days

Free trial length

$9.99

Individual plan price

35 Million

Library size

Details

Streaming quality 320 kbps
Available offline Mobile only
Library size 35 Million
Basic subscription $9.99
Free trial Yes
Free trial length 30 Days
Family plan offered Yes
Family plan device limit 6
Family plan price $14.99
Best of 2020
Finder experts pick Google Play Music as a 2020 best brand for music streaming.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Import existing music library. In addition to a large streaming library, Google Play Music lets you integrate your pre-purchased songs with ease, even if they’re from other services like iTunes.
  • Free subscription to YouTube Music. Though it requires downloading a separate app, you’ll get free access to all of YouTube Music’s music and video content.

Cons

  • Difficult to manage music. Using the Music Manager on a computer can make organizing your music library a frustrating and confusing experience.

What features does Google Play Music support?


Google Play Music has a lot to offer music lovers, thanks to its multifaceted approach to digital tunes.

On-demand streaming

A paid subscription to Google Play Music unlocks the ability to listen to songs from Google Play’s library on demand and ad-free. Create and share playlists up to 1,000 songs each, discover new music through recommendations based on your listening habits and skip songs as you like.

Offline play

Subscribers can download albums and playlists from the Google Play Music catalog to a mobile device for listening without the Internet. However, you can access your music only through Google Play Music app.

Music store

For an à la carte approach, Google Play’s music store offers an extensive library of songs and albums for individual purchase. You don’t need to be a subscriber to buy music from Google Play. And after you’ve purchased a track or album, it’s yours to listen to indefinitely.

Stream songs you purchase through the music store through the Google Play Music app or download them for playback offline. Download tracks as many times as you’d like with the Google Play Music app, the Music Manager PC app or the Google Play Music for Chrome extension. If you use a browser, you can download each song to your computer only two times tops.

Upload your collection

Among Google Play Music’s handiest features is the ability to upload your personal music collection to Google’s servers and listen to it on demand, wherever you go. Upload up to 50,000 to your account through the Music Manager app or the Google Play Music for Chrome extension. Any tracks already in Google Play Music’s catalog are added to your library instantly without counting against your upload limit, while other songs are uploaded to the server for download or stream.

Personalized recommendations

Google Play Music offers personalized recommendations based on your music tastes. The service tracks the songs you listen to and the ratings you give them, helping its algorithm to become more nuanced and relevant to what you like.

It also serves up a variety of curated playlists assembled by Google’s team of music aficionados, from thumping house beats to soothing medleys worthy of a night’s sleep. These cover a range of regularly updated genres, moods and activities.

What music is available on Google Play Music?


Google Play Music offers more than 40 million songs to purchase, download and streaming. The range is vast, covering everything from Kendrick Lamar and Hilltop Hoods to Fleetwood Mac and the Wiggles. The service holds licensing deals with major music labels like Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI.

You’ll even find official movie soundtracks from the likes of Moana and Frozen. Add to that support for up to 50,000 songs from your personal music collection, and Google Play Music has plenty of tunes to keep your ears content.

Audiophiles, take note: Google Play Music streams songs at a maximum 320 Kbps, provided your Internet connection is fast enough.

What types of files does Google Play Music support?

Google Play Music supports audio file formats that include:

  • MP3
  • AAC
  • Ogg Vorbis
  • WMA
  • FLAC
  • ALAC

Files are converted to MP3s during the upload process, and each can’t exceed 300MB.

What devices are compatible with Google Play Music?


Access Google Play Music on multiple smart devices and through a variety of interfaces for computers, phones and tablets.

PC, Mac and Linux

  • Music Manager app. Requires Windows XP or higher, Mac OS X 10.5 or higher or any mainstream Linux distribution.
  • Google Play Music web player. Requires latest version of Adobe Flash Player along with a compatible web browser.
  • Google Play Music for Chrome extension. Requires the latest version of Google Chrome.

Google Play Music app on mobile devices

  • iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. App requires iOS 8.2 or later.
  • Android smartphones and tablets. App needs Android 4.1 or later. Or download songs to an SD card instead of your device’s built-in storage, though you lose the ability to transfer them off the SD card to another device

Are there any restrictions for multiple devices?

Yes. You can’t register more than 10 devices to your account, and only five can be smartphones. You’re also limited to listening to music on one device at a time: If you try to listen on multiple devices simultaneously, your music stops playing. After you hit your 10-device limit, you can deauthorize up to four devices a year to make room for new ones.

Smart home device compatibility

Google Play Music is available on the following smart home devices:

  • Google Nest. This family of devices includes Nest mini (2nd gen), Google Home and Google Home Max, all with the Google Assistant.
  • Sonos. Deliver when linked up to your Google Play Music account.

How much does Google Play Music cost?


Choose from free and paid tiers that depend on how you plan to listen through Google Play Music.

Free account

In the US, Canada and India, frugal music lovers can sign up for limited Google Play Music without a subscription that allows you to:

  • Purchase and download songs from the music store.
  • Import up to 50,000 tracks from your own music library.
  • Stream custom radio stations based on activities, moods or artists. The stations include ads, but you can skip up to six songs an hour.
  • Discover and subscribe to podcasts.

Paid subscription

For $9.99 a month, your Google Play Music subscription offers:

  • Ad-free, on-demand streaming of more than 40 million songs.
  • Albums and playlists for downloading and listening offline on your mobile device.
  • A free subscription to YouTube Music.

Family plan

For $14.99 a month, your whole family can get in on the music-streaming life:

  • Share a subscription between yourself and up to six family members.
  • Stream from the Google Play Music library at the same time.
  • Share purchased apps, games, books, music and movies in the Family Library.

Family members must live in the same country and have their own Google Account. If a loved one isn’t yet age 13, you’ll need to create a Google Account for them.

Google Play music store

The cost of individual songs and albums through the Google Play music store varies by title. Individual songs are more predictable, tending to go for about $1.29, while albums vary depending on the number of featured tracks.

Compare more than 10 music streaming services

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Free trial length Library size Streaming quality Offline availability Individual plan price
Apple Music
3 Months
60 Million
320 kbps
Yes
$9.99
Amazon Music Unlimited
30 Days
50 Million
256 kbps
Yes
$9.99
SiriusXM Radio
3 Months
Not revealed
Yes
$8
Tidal Premium
30 Days
25 Million
320 kbps
Mobile only
$10
Tidal HiFi
Tidal HiFi
30 Days
25 Million
1411 kbps
Mobile only
$20
Deezer
30 Days
56 Million
320 kbps
Yes
$9.99
Spotify Premium
3 Months
50 Million
320 kbps
Yes
$9.99
SoundCloud Go+
30 Days
120 Million
Not revealed
Yes
$9.99
Pandora Plus
30 Days
30 Million
320 kbps
Yes
$4.99
Pandora Premium
60 Days
30 Million
160 kbps
Yes
$9.99
iHeartRadio
30 Days
30 Million
128 kbps
Yes
$5.99
Google Play Music
30 Days
35 Million
320 kbps
Mobile only
$9.99
YouTube Music
30 Days
30 Million
128 kbps
Yes
$11.99
LiveXLive
4 Months
128 kbps
Yes
$3.99
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Case study: Roslyn's experience

Roslyn McKenna profile photo
Roslyn McKenna
Publisher
My husband and I switched to Google Play Music to combine, share and update our music libraries. We were using MediaMonkey from our file server to manage music, but it was difficult to organize or add new music.

The biggest downsides to Google Play are that you can’t import any playlists you’ve made, and the Google Play library is not extensive. You’ll have to upload any obscure music yourself. Finding and adding music to your personal library or playlists is cumbersome and not very intuitive.

On the plus side, you can listen to all of your music on any device. You can also download your music and listen without using the data that streaming uses. There’s also a radio option, but I found it’s not as good as Pandora or Spotify.

Bottom Line

You might be more familiar with other music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, but Google Play Music is an option for tech-savvy music lovers. With a massive library of songs, free access to YouTube Music and the ability to both stream and import your music library across multiple devices, you can quickly build a library of tunes to jam out to anywhere.

Get the details on and browse the best deals in our guide to music streaming.

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2 Comments

  1. Default Gravatar
    Free
    December 3, 2019

    Can we still get a free google mini with subscription?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Brian
      December 3, 2019

      Thanks for reaching out to us about this. As of 2019, there was a promotion that was going on where you could get a free Google Play Mini – with a Spotify subscription, and that deal was only until November 15th. As of right now there’s no similar deal for a Google Play Music subscription.

      Hope this helps!

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