The days of laboriously uploading your music to a locker in the cloud are over. After launching the feature in Europe last month, Google is today bringing scan and match functionality to its US-based digital music store. Much like Apple and Amazon, Google has secured the necessary agreements with record labels that permit it to analyze your music library and match it against the company's own digital catalog — which grew even more comprehensive with the addition of Warner Music Group in October. Beginning today, users who store their songs in the cloud will no longer have to endure lengthy upload times; you'll realize the feature is active when tracks "upload" instantaneously.
Match your library against Google's
Google plans to go back and enable matching for existing users (by replacing previously-uploaded files) in the coming weeks. That could either be good or bad depending on the bitrate of your music library. Matched tracks from Google Play seemed to fluctuate in quality when we took a deep look at the service last month. Like Amazon and Apple, Google will no longer offer the option of manually uploading your personal music files as it did before; that only occurs if it can't find a match for a particular track.
Will free cloud storage pull music buyers away from Apple and Amazon?
But most importantly, Google continues to best Apple and Amazon in pricing. So long as your library is less than 20,000 tracks, matching is completely free, just as it is in Europe. Amazon Cloud Player subscribers need to pay $24.99 annually once they've gone over 250 tracks, though doing so allows them to store a generous 250,000 songs in the cloud. For the same price, Apple's iTunes Match grants you storage for up to 25,000 tunes. So it may seem like an easy decision to go with Google if you no longer want to worry about backing up and maintaining a digital music library. Of course, that's assuming you haven't already made the full transition to Spotify, Rdio, or other subscription services.