Getting/Using Google Music (outside of the US)

Being the Google fan-girl, I wanted to sign up for a Google Music beta invite right after the Google IO 2011 keynote. Unfortunately, as is still the norm these days, the service is only available in the US of A and if you’re outside of the US, you cannot even get enrolled for an invite.

Fortunately, it was relatively easy to workaround this if you have access to US-based VPN or proxy. You can get easily get a 5GB package for US$5 from AlwaysVPN which is really useful for stuff like this and is probably a much safer option than some dodgy public proxy.

Google Music Manager

On your computer

  1. Connect through a US-based VPN or proxy and sign up for an invite at Google Music.
  2. Wait for invite. I signed up after IO and got it just today, making it about a 3-week wait.
  3. Sign up for the service through the invite link (no vpn/proxy required).
  4. Follow through the sign up instructions and download Music Manager. Launch Music Manager, sign in and select music from your computer for upload.
  5. Let Music Manager do its thing, and when it’s done, go to http://music.google.com, and hey presto, start streaming your music (and about 150 complimentary tracks from Google)!

Google Music - album view on the site

If you have an Android phone, things get better. Install the latest beta version of Music (I have v3.0.1.339) and you will be able to stream music directly on your phone.

On your Android phone

  1. Intall Market Enabler (free, search for “market enabler”).
  2. Use Market Enabler to change the Market to a US telco (e.g. T-Mobile / AT&T / Verizon)
  3. Install Music from the Android Market (free, search for “google music”).
  4. The music app automatically picks up the music already in your phone and the music you have in the cloud for streaming. Enjoy!

Google Music - album view on Android Google Music - song view on Android

Impressions

I’ve always hated managing playlists on the phone so I really really welcome the ability to be able to create and edit them in the browser and have them synced transparently to the phone. The beta Music app in the Android is an improvement on the existing version, but it’s still a little fiddly. For example, you cannot “pin” songs for offline listening from the song list view or from the “Now playing” screen. However, if you have a decent connection on the phone, the streaming works pretty darn well.

The Music Manager, in its present incarnation, is really just a glorified sync/upload client. It really doesn’t do much else. While I’m grateful that it is not a bloated beast like iTunes, I wonder if why it’s needed in the first place. Why can’t I just drop my music for upload through the browser, like how attachments are done in Gmail?

Google provides some useful help online, which also gives you a good idea of what the service can do.

  1. Music Beta on your computer
  2. Music Beta on your Android device

There’s a number of rough edges on the service but overall, a competent start to storing and accessing your music on the cloud. I only hope it doesn’t go the way of Wave before it gets a chance to get better. :p