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It might be your music, but it's still not your cloud

This week brought a painful reminder that for as awesome as the ol' World Wide Web may be, it's still a pretty sorry state of affairs when it comes to online music. As a quick recap, Google implemented a limit on the number of devices you can unauthorize from Google Music in a year. You can still have up to 10 activated at any given time, but you can only swap out four of them for new devices. Sounds simple enough, right? And for the vast majority of folks out there, being able to play your music anywhere (in supported nations, anyway) from 14 different devices -- from smartphones and tablets to desktops and laptops and Google TVs -- is overkill several times over. But for others of us, our 10 slots were full, and any attempt to unauthorize a device -- something we'd previously been able to as often as we pleased -- was met with an orange-and-white message:

"Sorry, you've unauthorised too many devices."

Funny, I didn't feel like I'd unauthorized too many devices. (Also funny is that I've got the British spelling, where z's are traded for s's, but that was the least of my worries.) The problem I and many others had run into was that duplicate devices were taking up slots, and we now had no way of getting rid of them. for most folks, it was from flashing custom ROMs. For me, it was from my janky Logitech Revue, which requires a hard-reset every few weeks when it decides to forget some of the apps installed on it. (The latest victim to get sucked into the ether, ironically enough, was Google Play Music.) And so when the hammer came down, I was stuck with a Galaxy Nexus, the EVO 4G LTE, Nexus One, AT&T One X, international One X, a PC, a laptop and two instances of the Logitech Revue taking up precious device slots, with no way to get rid of any of them until 2013. Or, God forbid, until May 2013, if it doesn't go by calendar year.

(I'll be the first to say that that's hardly an embarrassing list of devices, though.)

Google's made me lazy, I think. I've gotten too used to having my music in the cloud. No longer do I have to worry about keeping my music synced from my desktop and laptop to my home NAS. So long as I'm not traveling, I use Google Music to listen to my music when tooling around town. When mowing the lawn. On the odd occasion that I exercise. 

I say "my music" because that's what I think of it as. My music. I've got the files somewhere and uploaded them to Google Music. It's my music.

Only, as soon as I decide to upload it to Google Music, it ceases to be mine. Well, it's still mine, but I've lent it to Google to share back to me. So it's no longer mine. It's subject to the rules and regulations of Google, which means it's subject to the wiles and whims of the music labels. Never mind that it's my music. I bought (most of) it. It's mine.

This week's deauth debacle is a reminder that while it might be my music, it's not my cloud. And while Google Music is the object of my ire, it's hardly alone here. Amazon Music's also subject to the record labels. Same for the streaming services. Even Apple has to go through negotiations with a bunch of old white men so that you can get your Bieber on over the air. 

This isn't a new issue. The good news is that Google's sorting things out on its end and in the meantime is letting us clean up our authorized devices. (A personal plea: Maybe some sort of exemption for those of us who test phones for a living?) But this week serves as a reminder that it's easy to become complacent, to accept the ease of streaming in exchange for sharing our files with a master whose best interests seldom are in line with our own. 

  • 2 articles on an "issue" that only effects tech writers and 1 percent of the populace. This is the definition of first world problems.
  • First world problems on a blog dedicated solely to smart phones. WELL I NEVER.
  • Haven't quit laughing at this for about the past five minutes lol. My sentiments exactly.
  • Are you saying that only 1% of all android phones run custom roms? I think its a bit higher.
  • Yes. In the absence of any reliable information to the contrary I'm betting that not more than 1% of Android phone users install custom roms. If you even visit this blog OCCASIONALLY, (or ever) you are far from the typical android user.
  • I completely agree. I don't know a single user who is using a custom ROM (including myself) and I am also the only one I know who ever visits any Android sites such as Androidcentral. All the other Android (and iphone) users that I know are basically clueless as to what is going on. I tell them when to expect upgrades and even how to get them (over and over again).
  • LOLdumb. There are over 500,000 android phones sold a DAY. If the population of xda-forums or rootzwiki or even Android Central went up by 5,000 rommers a day the sites would be crushed into oblivion. Plus, its not anyone who runs a custom rom, it's anyone who has 1 android device and wants to flash more than 10 new + 4 yearly roms AND wants to sign into Google Music with each one. The actual number of android users who fall into this trap is probably closer to .1%. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if it was .01%.
  • Actually, the issue affects anybody who installs a new rom on their device. I've been experimenting on roms with my evo 3D, and each rom is seen by google as a seperate device. I ran into the issue, and had 8 evo 3D's as "authorized devices"
  • Stop installing Google Music on a Rom you aren't sure you are going to keep.
    Problem solved.
  • Wow I'm the 1%?
  • My problem with Google Music isn't that they're brown-nosing the record labels, but that Android users aren't getting anything in return for the aggravation! Why doesn't Google Music have song matching capability like iTunes Music Match?
  • Google Music may not have music match, but it's also free. iOS's Music Match costs $24.99/year. iOS also doesn't allow streaming to the web and many devices. It allows "downloading" of music to several different devices that are either iPhones/iPads or desktops that have (ugh) iTunes installed. With Google Music, the initial upload is a pain, but the ease of use once uploaded is so much better. I don't have to download my music and clean it up when I want to use it.
  • Agreed, and it's not even $25 for unlimited storage IIRC. Amazon offers $20 for unlimited music storage (along with 20GB of data), AND you can stream to any Android device or PC, AND you can actually re-download songs to any device as well (unlike Google's more simplified but limited cache system). If you really look at it, Apple's service is the most basic while being the most expensive and it's only upside is Match.
  • Songs bought from iTunes don't count against your cap on iCloud.
  • Neither do songs purchased from Amazon MP3 or Google Play.
  • I've found the instant play list creation does a pretty good job (better than iPhone), and the shop for similar music also works very well. When I upload my rips of CDs they get replaced with high quality rips within days. That these aren't exact copies of iTunes Music Match does not bother me.
    That it bothers you, suggests you might have been happier in the IOS world. I left the iPhone world for good reasons, and I haven't spent a minute lamenting the fact that something on Android isn't exactly the same as on IOS. Change is good for you. Embrace it.
  • "When I upload my rips of CDs they get replaced with high quality rips within days." What are you talking about? Google Music doesn't "replace" anything with "high quality rips"... it TRANSCODES your existing files to lossy MP3, which ALWAYS results in a lower quality file, no matter how high the bitrate!
  • How are you not getting anything you are getting to stream music for free!! How can you be so spoiled to think that you should get something for nothing and then complain about how you are getting it? If you don't like it don't use it!!!
  • LOL, Google doesn't do ANYTHING for free. Just because you didn't cough up any cash for Google Music, doesn't mean they aren't extracting value from you somehow. And, no, I don't use Google Music on my Android devices (Nexus S and Kindle Fire) because Amazon Cloud Player (ALSO "free") fits my needs better and doesn't transcode MP4 audio without permission like Google Music does. I'm not complaining because I'm "spoiled", I'm complaining because I want Google to improve their product for the benefit of all Android users. Sheesh!
  • What part of letting you store music on their server and stream it is doing nothing. Google music is a service that you did not have previosly from google and now you do so saying that android users get nothing in return is being spoiled.
  • OK, I think I must have worded my first comment badly: what I meant to say was that GOOGLE is kissing the music industry's ass by including all these stupid restrictions, and WE the users are not getting any ADDITIONAL value for putting up with these stupid restrictions, where as iOS users, who ALSO put up with all kinds of stupid restictions get the incredible convenience of song matching in return. You get what I'm saying?
  • First World Problems. This all falls on the record labels and piracy issues. A few people ruin it for the rest of us law abiding (mostly) citizens. Don't hate the Google Music Player, hate the game.
  • Without even having read the article: Thank god for Zumocast/Motocast
  • The only good thing about this article is the photo... Black Keys - El Camino is one hell of an album. The rest of this article... #SMH
  • I do own my own cloud. Buffalo Cloudstor, i nice networked hard drive that sits next to my pc. No muss no fuss. So far it has worked well for me and they have been upgrading their Android app recently rather frequently. It is called pogoplug
  • I love the idea of My Music in the cloud. Until I want to listen to My Music without their cloud. I'm only allowed to download My Music twice. So if I want it on my computer and my phone, my music player is out of luck.
  • You can download your music as much as you want, such as if you crash a hard drive or something. Just install Music Manager again, and download it all. The limit only applies to the web interface.
  • The problem I have is I only use one device and I got affected by this. I tried to use Play Music a couple days ago and I got an error saying I had 10 devices already using it and I'd have to deauthorize some devices. So I went online and 9 of the devices were my G-Nexus and the 10th was my old Droid Incredible that I haven't used since getting the Nexus on launch day. The dates I supposedly authorized the Nexus each and every time looked to be, as best I could remember, dates I flashed a new Rom. So allowing only a few deauthorizations a year would mean that after a certain amount of custom roms flashed I'd have to decide whether to give up Play Music or new Roms. Google seems to think I have over 10 Nexuses, but I only have the 1. Makes me very hesitant to buy any music if they are going to lock out my Nexus because my 10 other Nexuses...that are the same Nexus, are using the authorizations.
  • I definitely had these issues because of flashing custom roms on my evo 4G, touchpad, and nook color (as well as having a revue and my laptop as an authorized device). I really hope Google figures this out....
  • Meh, Google should just pull a Microsoft and leave it the same, and if you need to deactivate more than 4 devices in a year, you call and they reset the number or something. An inconvenience for some, sure, but it should be more satisfactory to the people that need it.
  • It seems to me that the bulk of the problem could be solved by allowing unlimited deactivation of devices with the same IMEI/MEID number, thereby handling most of the Rom surfers. That would still leave wifi only tablets twisting in the wind, but I suspect Google is smart enough to fetch the serial numbers from those devices as well.
  • WOW! This article wasn't even published until AFTER the deauthorization limit was removed by Google yesterday! Shame on you, AndroidCentral!!!
  • Which part of the "Google addressing Music device de-authorization issues, back to 'normal' for now" story that we published yesterday -- and that I linked to in this piece-- do you not understand?
  • I see the link, but the whole tone of this article seems a little awkward when the limit was removed just hours after it was brought to Google's attention. How is it not "our" cloud?
  • Then you pretty much misunderstood the point of the editorial. But you got your spammy link in the comments, so there's that.
  • Maybe I'm the only one, but after spending the last couple of years disconnecting from Apples DRM/Locked crappola...I'm perfectly content keeping my video & music files on my own network drive. I put a 32GB storage card in my phone and rotate in and out what I want to listen to...and so do the other 3 members in the family. I do get how, for the constant device swappers (for someone like you Phil), it would be easier to have 1 online repository...however, couldn't you achieve the same portability by just popping in the SD card from phone to phone? My music always works, regardless of network connection, which, when you're in the middle of a lake, with spotty coverage, also shows why its a better solution for me. They can't take away what you don't allow them to control.
  • Exactly. That's why I will not buy a phone without an SD card slot. And I'm using a 64GB card right now. Not to mention that I don't have an unlimited data plan.
  • This particular problem might only effect a few power users but I think it points out a larger problem with depending on the cloud. Some say we don't need as much local memory because we can keep everything in the cloud. But the owners of the cloud can change the rules and make your stuff unavailable. They can shut down without or with notice like Lightbox announced this week it will be doing. I love having the cloud to sync my stuff so if I have to reset or get a new device I haven't lost my app data and I can set it up again easily. But I like having all my stuff locally too if not on my device then on my computer so I can load it.
  • Exactly. EXACTLY!!!
  • Agreed, the cloud is for convenience, and not a reliable primary storage. You still need your own backup. Can you imagine the mad rush if Google Voice shut down, or Gmail? Still this silly limit was never really warranted. You can't really abuse Google Music without sharing a Google Login, and you can't share that vary widely without it becoming obvious. Google tracks concurrent connections to a given account. (I suppose you could temporarily add a Google Music account to a phone, the use Google Music Sniper from the market to grab all the music, then deauthorize the phone. Lather, Rinse, repeat.) This is a basic design problem on Google's part, which is easily solved by upgrading Google Music Player to record IMEI/MEID or serial number of each mobile device you authorize, and saving that in your Google Music Settings when you AUTHORIZE to limit you to 10 devices, instead of limiting deauthorizations.
  • Waaaaaaaaaa. Is it me or has Android Central begun writing about things no one really cares about. When they do write an article of some substance it is a day or two after it has already been written on another Android site. On top of that this website is now filled with so many SPONSORED POST made to look like regular articles, it becomes very hard to read. This place use to be the gold standard for Android news. But over the last few months I think it has taken a step backwards. The forum is still the best around but the news leaves a lot to be desired. I am sure I will take a hit from some of you regarding this post, but I know I am not the only one who feels this way.
  • If you think that online music and video isn't one of the biggest issues in tech today. ... It's cliche, but it's absolutely the future of content consumption.
  • I am not questioning you writing a story about this yesterday. I am questioning writing an editorial complaining about it when most of your readers could care less or are not effected by this. But you are really missing the point of my comment and ignoring most of what I said. This is the hard hitting news we are now getting while we find our way through the sponsored posts: I am sorry for stating the truth. But as I said this was the gold standard website for Android News. Not any more.
  • Not complaining about the device deauth limits. It's annoying, but if that's the way it is, that's the way it is. (My bigger issue is that you couldn't deauth after a glitch, such as having two Revues listed.) And you're wrong. The MIMP post you're linking to here wasn't sponsored. Try again.
  • Sorry Phil you are wrong. I did not say, nor did I think it was sponsored. I was using it as an example of some of the articles we have gotten use to over the past few months. If you are proud of that review and felt this was the Android news you thought the masses needed to know, I am sorry. I for one think that article/review was a waste of time and I was embarrassed for you after reading it. None the less this is your website and you can keep writing whatever you want. Continue with the hard hitting Android news.
  • Ahhhhh. The way you framed it above sure makes it look like you were calling the MIMP link a sponsored post. :) I'm gonna quit polluting my own comments now. I'm more than happy to continue this discussion over e-mail or by phone of you'd like.
  • Boy are you missing the point. Or maybe just ignoring the point. It would be nice to see Android Central return to is former glory but if you cannot take criticism or the truth then I know it has no hope of getting there. As I said the forum is the best on the internet so I am thankful for that and I am thankful there are other places for Android news. Thanks Phil.
  • So, you're assuming that the majority of the users of this site do not care about this? What qualifies you to make this assumption? Have you taken a poll? You have made the mistake of believing everyone else's opinion to be concurrent with your own. Who are you to say whether or not this is important to someone? I would certainly say that Phil is SIGNIFICANTLY more qualified to make such a judgement than yourself. Disagree? Put it on YOUR Android site. You know, where you can post all of that “hard hitting news” you obviously have laying around. Because this was damn sure important and “hard hitting” to me. Your criticism is based upon a gross generalization which is unsubstantiated by anything other than your own opinion, and is thus worthless and should be treated as such. Do not pretend as though you can speak for the majority. No one elected you, and no one that I am aware of deemed you capable of being the representative of the "voice of the people." Simply by the fact that you have BY FAR missed the entire point Phil was trying to make here shows this to be true. This was meant as a wake up call, of sorts. And I agree with him. You say Phil missed the point, but the reality of it is quite the opposite. YOU have missed the point, which was not to complain about the limit, but rather to remind us of the very nature of the internet. And he’s correct. Also, since when is your opinion the truth?
  • If you read my first post I said I think. So I am speaking for me and only me. With that being said I have a right to my opinion and I respect your opinion, but the anger level is a bit much. Wouldn't you say? Good luck Eleventh Hour. I hope you can find someone or something to control your anger. It is not healthy.
  • Na bro, just passionate :). All is fun in a good debate, no hurt feelings. Don’t take it to heart, you’re still a fellow smartphone enthusiast, and I respect that :). That being said, you did say “I think” wrt the site taking a step backwards. I was referring to the part where you said: “I am questioning writing an editorial complaining about it when most of your readers could care less or are not effected by this. But you are really missing the point of my comment and ignoring most of what I said. This is the hard hitting news we are now getting while we find our way through the sponsored posts:
    I am sorry for stating the truth. But as I said this was the gold standard website for Android News. Not any more.” Particularly the part where you say you are “stating the truth.” And you certainly have a right to your opinion, but not to treat your opinion as “truth." However, I do think you missed the point of his editorial.
  • Did anyone try using a second Gmail account to circumvent the limit? You would have to upload your music twice, once to each account, but you could just link the app to the second account when the limit is hit with the first.
  • Phil, so you just had to remind us that you are one of the few that actually got their EVO LTE....insensitive
  • This is why I feel sorry for people who buy a device with only 16 GB of storage (of which you really get only 10 GB) without the option to add more storage via micro SD. Between data caps and being at the mercy of whoever owns the cloud, there is no way in hell I'm giving up local storage. Cloud schmloud!
  • That seems a little racist and sexist. Why can't someone other than a white male be in charge of contract negotiations for record labels?
  • Time for another review on Pogoplug or Tonido, eh Phil? Yes, Google F***** up by not implementing a better serialization and deauth mechanism (why not just make all in-app downloads encrypted?) Real power users, however, wont bother with silly little Google Music and instead will just buy their own device, attach a few hundred GB of storage, and stream it themselves.
  • We all have a "cloud", its right at home or your office, your desktop. This is all the magical cloud is, your data stored elsewhere.
    I use AudioGalaxy for my music, no restrictions. And there are tons of other free apps/programs to have access to the rest of your true cloud, your desktop. Of course the only restriction is if your computer craps out, but i haven't had a desktop quit on me for at least 5 years. Cloud schmoud +1 -j-
  • One solution: Audiogalaxy
  • Here's a problem that actually affects normal users like myself, that I'd love for you guys to tackle with Google since it's apparently so low on the priority list that Support can never give me an answer: Bad sound counts inflating the 20,000 song limit. I currently have 17,000 songs in my locker, and yet any time I add new music to my watched folders I'm told I've already hit the 20,000 song limit, so none of my newer music can be streamed. What gives?!
  • Device no longer shows up when registering after flashing a new rom. Works for me ;-)
  • I'd still rather just store it locally. It's just lossy digital music being listened to on cheap earbuds; it's hardly worth all the hassle, data use, battery chewing, unreliability of signal...
  • I use Subsonic and ownCloud. They are on your storage it's your 'own cloud'. Problem solved.
  • I think Google is verging on Fascism here... at least tech fascism... I have about 5 android devices, and three PC's, and I flash ROM's regularly, so often have to re-authorise the same device... so why does Google deem it necessary / acceptable to restrict a user's ability to deauthorise and re-authorise devices as much as he/she sees fit?! Astonishingly crap to me... the kind of thing you'd expect Apple to do... but then Google long ago lost their "nicer than apple" mojo.