Google turned on its free scan and match service for Google Music for users in the US yesterday. This will allow you to add up to 20,000 songs to your Google Play music stream a lot faster.Previously you needed to upload the actual files to your Google Music locker. That process could take days, depending on the amount of music you have. Unlike Apple’s iTunes Match or Amazon’s Scan & Match service’s which cost $24.99 a year — Google is giving you the service absolutely free.
Google Play Music Manager scans your music collection (including iTunes and WMP Libraries) and matches the songs with its own digital music catalog. Songs that Google can’t match will be uploaded to your music locker.
Google Music Streaming Quality
According to its Google+ Post:
Our new music matching feature gets your songs into your online music library on Google Play much faster. We’ll scan your collection and quickly rebuild it in the cloud – all for free. And we’ll stream your music back to you at up to 320 kbps.
Google Music will stream your matched songs back at 320Kbps, which is a higher quality bitrate than what iTunes and Amazon offer.
The good news about that is, lower quality files will be streamed back at higher quality. However, downloaded files will only have a similar bitrate to the original — iTunes Match gives you a 256Kbps file. Still, you’re getting music that’s at similar or better quality than the original from Google Music.
You don’t need to do anything special if you’re already using Google Music, the feature is just turned on and you should notice your uploads are happening faster. Google says it will be replacing files that existing users have uploaded to the cloud too. And that can be a problem If you have already uploaded high quality FLAC files — the bitrate will be lowered.
How To Use Google Play Music Manager
To start using the Google scan and match feature, you’ll need to have a Google Play account, and download the Google Music Manager software.
During the install wizard you have the option to select the location of your music collection. You can check your iTunes, Windows Media Player, or My Music Folder.
But the option I like the best is adding different locations, including network directories.
Here I added music from my local drive and Windows Home Server.
After selecting your music, kick back and let Google scan and match your tunes. The process will continue to work in the background while you do other things on your computer. A Google Music icon will display on the Taskbar and you can right click it to see what’s uploaded and access other options.
In Music Manager Options you’ll see the upload progress and can change the settings. For example under the Advanced tab you can set the uploading bandwidth.
Also notice the link under the progress bar. It’s telling me that 99 songs can’t be uploaded.
Clicking that link brings up a new windows that displays which songs can’t go up and why. In this case it’s because they’re restricted due to DRM.
While your music being matched, you can see the progress on your Google Play Music page too.
After songs are matched, you can stream your music to your Android device, or a browser on your computer.
While you can download your music from the web, you’re limited to downloading each song only two times.
You can add Google Music to the Home Screen on iOS devices, but a standalone app for would definitely be a welcome addition.