Comparison of Google Play and Amazon

I am an Amazon Prime member so that I have free access to their “Prime Music”. Prime music is a full-scale music subscription. 
Google Play Music vs Amazon Prime MusicOne would think that because of that I have a strong bias towards Amazon. And I had. Amazon used to be my favorite company for many years.  A while ago, I still decided to try out Google Music. 
Here is a comparison of both services:

Available artists

Both companies offer an extremely broad spectrum of mainstream and less popular artists. From my experience (and I am listening to some rather uncommon artists) and in the tests that I did for this comparison, they basically scored even. Of one artist one has a few titles more, of the next one the other service wins. 
But, what I loved from Apple, Google has podcasts. Therefore: 
Google wins. 

Storage

Amazon offers free storage for all music you purchased from them. They do not count towards your allowance. That applies to Google Play Music as well. 
Amazon allows you to upload up to 250 songs without charge. Google lets you upload 50,000 songs. Yes, 50,000. A “music subscription” for $ 25 (annually) enables you to upload up to 250,000 songs to Amazon. 
If you chose to cancel your subscription Amazon will not send you a warning. On the day your subscription ends you will lose access to your uploaded songs. They keep them for a year and if you re-subscribe during this time you will regain access. Or you can delete your imported songs and start fresh with up to 250. 
$ 25 is a great price but I still do not like the fact that without any warning you lose access to your uploads. We all prefer being invited to hard-selling, right? And please see “Security of your music” below.
Google is the clear winner. 

Music Subscription

Google offers a few songs and albums for free – so does Amazon. Again, both companies offer extremely large amounts of songs and there will not be many artists who ever came out with an album you will not find. 
The monthly fee for the Google Play Music service is 9.99. You get access to 35 million (!) songs. There had been rumours that Amazon is going to offer a “Music only” subscription. I have not heard from that in a while and a google search also did not lead to results so that I think they dropped the idea. After all, they use the free services to push their main service, Prime. 
Amazon Prime music offers access to over 1 million songs for free. 
I am not sure how to score a winner. Obviously, 35 million songs are better than 1 million and free is better than $ 120 per year. I´ll put it like this: If for some reason you are not a Prime Member and do not want to become one google is the crystal clear winner. 
But if you are a Prime Member anyway and use other peaks of the Prime Membership, unless you are a music freak it´s probably not necessary to pay for another subscription so that in that scenario Amazon is the clear winner.


Compatibility

Both companies offer apps for PC, phones, tablets. It comes as no surprise that the Google front end is conveniently integrated into your browser while you have to download and install the Amazon music app. 
You can go to your library via a web browser with Amazon too but you cannot upload your songs via Chrome. I did not bother to install another browser to try. It´s 2016 and 34.7 % of people use Google Chrome. Just work around their special flash player! It´s not rocket science. 
Both do not have an app for the Apple watch ):
Google wins this one. 


Security of your music

Before I relocated from Germany, I copied my CD´s. My own CD´s –  purchased in a store. When I tried to upload them to Amazon, they would only play a loud sound. Amazon was of the opinion I did not legally own them. 
I do not appreciate a storage service to play police; especially when it makes mistakes. Two other things happened at the same time: The USB stick I stored the music on broke and Amazon changed their storage rules. I do not remember how many songs you were allowed to have back then … they lowered it to 250 and did not like today have the option of restoring it. 
They just deleted my music. UN-BE-LIEVABLE!
That happened 3 years ago, and they probably changed this. That might be an emotional way to look at it, but basically, Amazon stole my music. At least that is how it felt – and you do not forget who steals from you. 
I am pretty sure if Google would lower the allowance of songs you can store they would give you not one but probably three warnings and not delete your music. When my Google drive subscription ran out I could still download all of my content. 
You guess it. Google wins. 

Import

Both compare songs you upload to their libraries. For some reason, Amazon until this day has an annoyingly high error rate. 
Often albums that ARE in their library get detected correctly but the songs are being called 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. I have 12 songs called each number. Obviously, you cannot search for the song titles. They also very, very often mess up songs you even purchased from them. 
For instance: 7 albums I purchased from them as well as many imported (including popular albums like Caribou, Franz Ferdinand, and Bear in Heaven)  end up as separate albums. So you would have more than one album with the same name and one would contain most songs, the other only one song or a few. 
I also purchased an album from Amazon that consists of only two songs. The songs have the same name, only one has the addition “day” and the other one “night”. I see both songs in my Amazon library. But on any other device, I can only see and therefore play one of the songs. 
Maybe it would work to manually on your computer create playlists for all songs from an album and then it works on all devices – I found another solution you will see in the conclusion. 
While Google is able to figure the artist from the file name (or however …), Amazon has severe problems with recognizing any song that is not in their catalog. And as discussed with many songs from their own store. 
In all neutrality (hahaha) and fairness I cannot say: Google is the winner. I will have to say: Amazon is the loser. 

Radio

Both services offer a radio function. There is not much to say about this: Amazon has a very limited amount of “radio stations” that are 100 % mainstream only. 
Google has a service like iHeart radio and others. They have ready-made stations but you can also choose the artist of your liking and the system creates a station for you. 
Unless you have a paid membership, sadly, you only have a limited amount of  “skips”. Songs you give “thumbs up” get added to a playlist. 
If only Google had an apple watch function … I am always happy for every app I need less and this could replace my iHeart and potentially Tunein radio. 
Google is WAY better (which is easy when you have all the data in the world to analyze) than any other service I tried (Spotify, Last FM (when they still existed), iHeart, TuneIn…) in adding “similar artists” that I really enjoy. 
Again, they do have an unfair advantage by being in possession of unimaginable amounts of our personal data – but it´s not about market fairness for me when I want to listen to good music. 

Google wins.

Advertisements

Google shows advertisements. At least to me as a free user. Amazon only advertises their own services and products. 
Amazon´s ads are less intrusive and less annoying. 
Amazon wins. 

Conclusion

If you are a Prime Member with a “regular” taste in music there is no need for you to pay for a music subscription other than the $ 25 per year “music subscription” if you want to upload more than 250 of your own songs. 
While I am writing this article my songs are uploading to Google Play Music even though I am a Prime Member. Some music is a tad cheaper on Amazon.

My first thought was: But when I buy songs from Amazon I would have to upload them manually if I switch to google. That was another annoying thing about Amazon. It can add your songs to iTunes. But my iTunes is not on the same machine as my music. I sync to iTunes from a removable hard disk. 

There is an effortless workaround, though: In the Amazon Music App you can choose to auto-download your purchases while in the Google Play Music App you can select which folders on your computer you want google to auto-synch.  

Google is better in many aspects that are important to me personally: 
  • Integrated, state-of-the-art radio function
  • Free upload of 50000 songs
  • Nearly no mistakes with tagging or missing files, no matter if recorded from youtube, purchased from Amazon or recorded via some other app
  • Better frontend
  • Podcasts!!! Without podcasts you (or at least I) still need iTunes
PS: You can find my podcast there too!

PSPS: Should you not be a Prime member yet: In addition to the free music service the membership includes a “Netflix” (video offer), free 2-day shipping on many items, a free book rental per month and many other perks.

Free trial HERE

Google Play Music vs. Prime Music

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