Google's taking a big step out in front of its music streaming competitors today. The company has just announced that effective immediately, you'll be able to upload up to 50,000 songs from your personal music collection and store them in the cloud through Google Play Music — all for free. The previous limit was 20,000.
Apple and Amazon don't even come close
The new total is double what Apple allows users to upload with iTunes Match (25,000), which itself is a premium service priced at $24.99 annually. (Paying for iTunes Match also lets you listen to Apple's iTunes Radio without being pestered by ads.) Amazon Music lets consumers store 250 songs in the cloud for free, though subscribers can upload as many as 250,000 tracks. But again, that requires spending money. Google's giving you 50,000 slots for free. And from the looks of it, there's no fine print. Google's simply upping the number to put an even bigger gap between itself and Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft's Xbox Music. The latter service does not allow manual uploads; instead, it can only sync your own songs to the cloud if they're in Microsoft's own store.
I've generally been a big fan of Google's cloud music storage. It's where I've uploaded The Beatles discography, mono Bob Dylan recordings, out-of-print CDs, and other content that you generally can't buy from Play Music. Uploading is pretty painless, though I still wish Google offered an option to manually upload songs rather than match your library against its own by default. If there's a mismatch when that happens, you're forced to hit "Fix incorrect match" and wait for your own track to upload.
Google's music locker is a great place to store the songs you never want to lose.
The service also tends to make bizarre cover art mistakes from time to time, but correcting that is way easier. Let's just say this is a pretty great deal, and regardless of whether you intend to start paying monthly for Google Play Music, it's something worth looking into. That's a nice all-in-one package, but I'm a Spotify subscriber and still find that Google's free music locker is the perfect complement.