Get more from Play Mu­sic

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

Subscribe now’ blares the ban­ner at the bot­tom of Google’s Play Mu­sic con­trol panel, and in­deed, ev­ery­thing about the just-re­vamped app seems to be singing the praises of its sub­scrip­tion stream­ing ser­vice, par­tic­u­larly the new auto-gen­er­ated ra­dio sta­tions that sit in Play Mu­sic’s Home tab.

But even if you don’t want to cough up £9.99 per month to play a stream­ing shuf­fle on your phone (£14.99 for a fam­ily sub­scrip­tion), there’s still plenty of free stuff to like in Google’s Play Mu­sic app for An­droid and iOS.

For ex­am­ple, you can bring pretty much your en­tire mu­sic col­lec­tion wher­ever you go once you up­load your tunes and cre­ate and save ‘in­stant mixes’ based on any of your songs. There’s also an off­line mode and band­width set­tings to keep you from blow­ing through your mo­bile data, an equal­izer for teas­ing the best sound out of your head­phones, and even a sleep timer so you can doze off to your most sooth­ing playlist.

Up­load your mu­sic col­lec­tion

One of the most pow­er­ful features of Play Mu­sic – namely, its abil­ity to stream your mu­sic col­lec­tion to your An­droid or iOS de­vice – de­mands a lengthy, te­dious chore on your desk­top PC, but the re­sults are worth the time and ef­fort.

Google of­fers a down­load­able ‘Mu­sic Man­ager’ tool that will up­load mu­sic from your PC or Mac to your Play Mu­sic ac­count, or you can drag-and-drop mu­sic files into the Up­load win­dow of Play Mu­sic for Chrome.

Google’s Mu­sic Man­ager tool does its best to ‘scan and match’ your tunes with ex­ist­ing tracks in the cloud, but it will end up up­load­ing many of your songs, a process that could take hours or even days de­pend­ing on the speed of your broad­band con­nec­tion and the size of your mu­sic col­lec­tion.

Once you’re done with all the up­loads, though, your mu­sic will be avail­able for stream­ing or down­load in the Play Mu­sic app for iOS and An­droid, and even on Play Mu­sic in a web browser – and best of all, Google will let you up­load up to 50,000 tracks for free.

Note: Any mu­sic you’ve pre­vi­ously pur­chased from the Google Play Mu­sic store will al­ready be sit­ting in your on­line mu­sic li­brary, and they won’t count against your free 50,000 song up­loads.

Cre­ate and save an ‘in­stant mix’

Sure, the free ver­sion of Google Play Mu­sic will let you lis­ten to stream­ing ra­dio sta­tions, but you’ll have to deal with some ads and

lim­its to how of­ten you can skip tracks, and down­load­ing a sta­tion for off­line lis­ten­ing is out of the ques­tion.

If your mu­sic col­lec­tion is in the cloud, though, you can cre­ate ‘in­stant mixes’ of your tracks based on your favourite songs, al­bums, and artists, and then save and down­load those mixes to your An­droid or iOS de­vice.

Just go to any song, al­bum or artist in your mu­sic li­brary, tap the three-dot menu but­ton, and se­lect Start in­stant mix. When you do, Play Mu­sic will gen­er­ate a mix and start play­ing the first tune. Tap the mini-player at the bot­tom of the screen, tap the three-dot menu but­ton again, tap Save queue, then save the songs in the queue to a new playlist.

Next, nav­i­gate back to the main Mu­sic Li­brary screen, tap the Playlists tab, tap the three-dot menu but­ton on the playlist you just cre­ated, then tap Down­load to save your mix for off­line lis­ten­ing.

Switch to off­line mode

Once you’ve saved a few in­stant mixes to your de­vice, you’ll be ready to tee them up wher­ever you are, even if you’re off­line – and in­deed, if you’re in­tent on burn­ing as lit­tle mo­bile data as pos­si­ble while lis­ten­ing to your tunes on the go, your best bet is to switch the Play Mu­sic app to off­line mode.

Tap the main menu but­ton in the topleft cor­ner of the screen, then tog­gle on the Down­loaded only set­ting. Once you do, Play Mu­sic will only drop the nee­dle on tracks that are al­ready down­loaded on your An­droid or iOS de­vice, per­fect for lis­ten­ing on the train or keep­ing your mo­bile data use in check.

Use as lit­tle mo­bile data as pos­si­ble

Let’s say that you’re out and about and you’re itch­ing to play an al­bum that you for­got to down­load in ad­vance. With the right set­tings en­abled, you can still stream your mu­sic with­out tak­ing too big a bite out of your mo­bile data allowance.

Tap the main menu but­ton in the top-left cor­ner of the screen, tap Set­tings, then scroll down and tap Mo­bile net­works stream qual­ity. Now, pick a set­ting. Low uses the least amount of cel­lu­lar band­width but leaves your mu­sic sound­ing mud­dier than you might like. Nor­mal strikes a de­cent bal­ance be­tween sound qual­ity and mo­bile data use, while High spares no ex­pense when it comes to de­liv­er­ing crys­tal-clear sound qual­ity.

Tweak your equal­izer set­tings

When it comes to au­dio qual­ity, you can make your own ad­just­ment to how your tracks sound by ad­just­ing the Play Mu­sic’s equal­izer lev­els, though only in you have an An­droid de­vice. If you own an iOS hand­set you’ll be un­able to ac­cess this fea­ture. Tap the main menu but­ton, then tap Set­tings > Equal­izer, and tog­gle on the main Equal­izer switch. The drop-down menu in the top cor­ner of the screen lets you choose from 11 equal­izer pre­sets, rang­ing from Nor­mal and Clas­si­cal to Hip-Hop and Jazz, or you can pick User to mess with the quin­tet of EQ slid­ers.

Be­low the main equal­izer set­tings are a cou­ple more au­dio set­tings: one for Bass Boost and another for Sur­round sound, handy for giv­ing Play Mu­sic’s au­dio some ex­tra punch and pres­ence. Note: If the Bass Boost and Sur­round sound slid­ers are greyed out, try plug­ging in a pair of head­phones.

Tin­ker with your mu­sic queue

Just like the Mu­sic app on iOS, Play Mu­sic has a queue of ‘up next’ songs – in other words, a list of all the songs that are queued up de­pend­ing on the al­bum, playlist or artist you’re play­ing.

When you are play­ing a track, tap the mini-player at the bot­tom of the dis­play to zoom it to full-screen view, then tap the queue but­ton (the one with three lines and a lit­tle mu­sic note icon) in the top-right cor­ner of the screen.

Now that you can see your mu­sic queue, time to tin­ker. First, tap and drag a han­dle next to a song to shuf­fle its po­si­tion in the queue, or swipe away the song to nix it from the queue. To jump any song, al­bum or artist in your mu­sic li­brary to the front of the queue, tap the three-dot menu but­ton next to its ti­tle and tap Play next – or, if you want your se­lec­tion to play af­ter ev­ery­thing else in your queue, tap Add to queue in­stead.

Check out your ‘cached’ mu­sic

One of the tricks that Play Mu­sic has up its sleeves is the abil­ity to au­to­mat­i­cally down­load a playlist of your re­cently played songs. If you ever get caught off­line with­out hav­ing down­loaded any mu­sic man­u­ally, you can count on your cached mu­sic to tide you over.

First, make sure you’re in off­line mode: Tap the main menu but­ton, then tog­gle on the Down­loads only switch.

Back on the main menu, tap Home – and when you do, you’ll find a ‘cached mu­sic’ playlist, all down­loaded and wait­ing for you.

If you’re short on stor­age space and you ac­tu­ally don’t want Play Mu­sic au­to­mat­i­cally down­load­ing any mu­sic, tap the main menu but­ton, tap Set­tings, then tog­gle off the Cache mu­sic while stream­ing set­ting (or Cache dur­ing play­back on iOS). You’ll lose your cached-mu­sic playlist, but at least you’ll con­serve pre­cious stor­age space on your hand­set.

Clear out old cached data and down­loads

Run­ning out of stor­age space? There’s an easy way to in­stantly zap all of Play Mu­sic’s down­loaded tunes, along with any auto-down­loaded ‘cached’ mu­sic.

Head to the main menu, then tap Set­tings > Clear cache. That’s a move that could in­stantly free up hun­dreds of megabytes of stor­age, de­pend­ing on the size of your ‘cached mu­sic’ playlist.

Next, tap Man­age down­loads. You’ll jump to a screen that shows all the down­loaded mu­sic and pod­casts on your de­vice. Just tap the lit­tle or­ange but­tons next to each track, al­bum or artist to in­stantly wipe them.

Fall asleep to your tunes

There’s noth­ing like a mix of mel­low tunes to help you doze off, and Play Mu­sic has a fea­ture that’ll help you get some sleep with­out play­ing your mu­sic on all night.

Even if you don’t pay for Play Mu­sic, you can still up­load your mu­sic col­lec­tion, cre­ate and save ‘in­stant mixes’, tweak your equal­izer lev­els, set a sleep timer, and more. Ben Pat­ter­son re­ports

You can up­load up to 50,000 tracks to Google Play Mu­sic for free

Tap ‘Start in­stant mix’ to cre­ate a mix of tunes based on a spe­cific song, al­bum, or artist

Google Play Mu­sic’s off­line mode lets you lis­ten to down­loaded tracks when you’re out of range of cel­lu­lar or Wi-Fi, or sim­ply to cut down on your mo­bile data use

You can change the or­der of songs in your mu­sic queue by drag­ging the lit­tle han­dles to the left, or just swipe a track away to take it off the list

You can get your mu­sic to sound just right with a lit­tle help from Play Mu­sic’s equal­izer set­tings

Google Play Mu­sic’s off­line mode lets you lis­ten to down­loaded tracks when you’re out of range of cel­lu­lar or Wi-Fi, or sim­ply to cut down on your mo­bile data use

Google Play Mu­sic’s sleep timer can help you snooze to your most sooth­ing tunes. Tap the main menu but­ton, tap Set­tings > Sleep Timer, then se­lect how many hours and min­utes you’d like to snooze to

You’ll never be caught with­out some­thing to lis­ten to thanks to Play Mu­sic’s ‘cached mu­sic’ playlist

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