Music streaming pros
If you pay a monthly fee for a streaming music service, and they all seem to be around £10 or $10 a month, you have access to tens of millions of music tracks. Some services have 20, 30 or even 40 million tracks. This is more than you could ever listen to of course, and the reason for having so many is because there are many genres and some music is local to a specific region of the world. Still, you have a lot of choice.
The quality of streaming music is high and 320 kbps is available from most services, which is so close to CD quality that many people cannot tell the difference. You can listen to your music on mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers and you get all-you-can-eat music for a flat fee.
You always have access to the latest music and top albums and tracks from the best artists appear on the music streaming service soon after being released. Sometimes on the same day. OK, there are a few exceptions, but almost everything is available.
Music streaming cons
The problem with music streaming is that when you stop paying the monthly fee, you have nothing to show for your money. No music. It costs £10 a month (or dollars if you are in the US), which is £120 a year. After five years of listening to music you have spent £600, after 10 years it is £1,200, and so on.
If you had bought £1,200 worth of music on CDs you would have a big stack of CDs and lots of music to listen to. I don’t want to have to pay for streaming music for the rest of my life. I'll have nothing to show for my money if after 5, 10 or 15 years I quit paying.
By buying and collecting CDs or digital music downloads (MP3, FLAC, WAV), I have music I can keep forever and over time my music library grows larger and larger. I have been collecting CDs since they first came out and already have quite a lot.
One day the CD may no longer exist, but that does not bother me because I transfer them to the computer when I buy them anyway. I have a choice of file formats, including lossy and lossless high quality. Some stores will give you the MP3 downloads when you buy a physical CD too, so you don't even need to rip them.
The best of both worlds
Google Play Music is more than a streaming music service and you can upload your own music and store it online. You can then stream it to any computer, mobile phone or tablet you want. There are Android and iOS versions of the Google Play Music app for your mobile devices and everything is free.
It is a bit more of a hassle to set up than signing up for a streaming music service, but it isn’t that difficult. You can use a utility like CDEx to copy your CDs to the computer’s disk drive if you don't already have a CD copier. You can then sign in to Google Play Music using Chrome and upload your music files.
1. Go to the Google Play Store in Chrome and click Music on the left.
2. You don’t want the Music store, so click My Music on the left.
3. I have already uploaded lots of music, but it will be empty if this is your first visit.
4. Click the Add music button in the top right corner. You might need to install a Chrome extension – just click OK.
5. Now you can drag music track and even whole folders to Chrome and drop them to upload them. Album artwork is automatically added and everything just works.
Of course, it will take you some time to rip all your music CDs and upload them, but once done, you only have to add a single CD each time you buy one.
You actually don’t even need to upload your music. Go and get the Google Play Music Manager and it will automatically upload your music library in the background while you do something more interesting on your computer. I installed it on one of my computers, set the bandwidth to the minimum, and after a week, my whole CD library was online.
You can store up to 50,000 songs on Google Play Music and stream them to any computer, phone or tablet. All for free. Just grab the iOS and Android apps for your devices.
This DIY music streaming will not suit everyone, but it works great for me.