Google started sending out beta invites for Google Music shortly after unveiling the service earlier this month. But initially the invites were only going to attendees of the Google I/O conference and Motorola XOOM users. Now Engadget reports that Google has begun sending out invitations to people who don’t fall into either of those categories.
I got an invite a few days ago thanks to the demo XOOM registered to my name at the moment. I’m still not done uploading my music collection to the cloud. Google offers users the chance to store up to 20,000 songs online, and while I only have about a quarter of that number in my music collection, it still takes a while to upload 29GB of music.
One nice feature I noticed during the signup process is that you can choose a couple of your favorite music genres and Google will throw some free MP3 files into your account.
Once you have a few songs uploaded, you can listen to them from nearly any computer by visiting google.music.com in a web browser. You can also login from the latest music apps for Android phones and tablets to access your collection on a mobile device. I’ve noticed when you use the mobile app to play a song from Google’s servers there can be a pause of several seconds before playback begins, but if you’re playing a whole album, the app seems to queue songs in the background because there’s no noticeable gap between songs.
Overall I’m pretty impressed with the service — although I’m still a bit baffled at the way Google is going it alone here. While the company is reportedly working on deals with record labels, none are in place right now. So while it would be easier for Google to just maintain a huge collection of music in the cloud, examine your local music library, and allow you to stream songs you’ve already purchased, instead the company is allowing thousands, perhaps millions of users to upload their entire collections to Google’s servers where the same song could be stored thousands of times taking up a ridiculous amount of server space.
Google Music is free while in beta. If you haven’t received an invite yet you can request one online.