You can now store 50,000 songs online with Google Play Music

Google just made its Play Music service a bit more appealing, even if you don’t use a Google Android phone. You can now upload 50,000 songs to your Google Play Music account at no charge; the previous limit was 20,000.

play music 50k downloads

[company]Google[/company] announced the storage boost in a blog post on Wednesday, pointing out that once your tunes are uploaded, you can stream or download them on Android devices, an [company]Apple[/company] iPad or iPhone, a Chromebook or from a computer via the browser. Music tracks can also be streamed through Google’s Chromecast device.

The increased storage is a noticeable jump over what Apple offers with its iTunes Match service. There you get 25,000 track uploads but you have to pay $24.99 a year to get them. And you can’t get at those tunes from anything other than iTunes or an Apple TV, so Android device owners need not apply.

Google Play Music Android Wear main

For a while, I was a fan of iTunes Radio, which is ad-free with an iTunes Match account, but later opted to use Google Play Music. The main reason? The portability. I have one foot firmly in both camps — that is, iOS and Android — and I prefer cross-platform services that work regardless of the device I’m using; including a smartwatch. It helps that Google recently made its Play Music app for iOS universal so that it has a true iPad interface now.

That’s just personal preference on my part though, and [company]Amazon[/company]’s own music storage is a worthy contender in this space too. Which of these (or other) cloud music services are you using to store your albums and why? Maybe you’ll convince me to reconsider my approach.

Play on: The iPad gets an official Google Play Music app

Given that iOS has iTunes with its own Radio software, there might not be a ton of widespread interest in Google Play Music for iPad owners. I actually do use Google’s music service on a daily basis — mainly because it integrated Songza’s playlist function — so I’m thrilled to see yet another option on my iPad: Google officially released an iPad version of Play Music on Tuesday.

Up to this point, I was doing what others do: Just using the blown up [company]Apple[/company] iPhone interface on an iPad for [company]Google[/company] Play Music. The new app looks much better; fully optimized for the iPad’s larger screen and complete with Google’s Material Design language.

Google Play Music iPad

Google says its iPad app shows descriptive pages with artist and album info — I see information pulled in from Wikipedia on Eric Clapton’s page, for example — along with an immersive Now Playing page for every song.

I’m not sure why it took Google so long to expand its Play Music app from the iPhone version, but so far it looks good: Visually crisp and informative with larger controls made for iPad. And you can still have music curated based on your mood, environment or time of day.

SiriusXM can fight windfall for ’60s singers, judge rules

Music lovers finally caught a break this week as a federal judge ruled SiriusXM can appeal a jaw-dropping ruling that created a new type of copyright royalty, and that could oblige digital media companies to pay the likes of the Turtles additional money for songs they sang fifty years ago.

The issue concerns so-called “sound recording rights,” which are separate from songwriter rights, and are paid to musicians whenever a recording is sold. In recent years, record labels has been claiming that companies like Pandora and SiriusXM should pay again under state laws for pre-1972 songs — even though copyright law is federal, and that no one has received such payments before. The 1960s Turtles singers, known as Flo & Eddie, have been the face of the campaign through a series of class action lawsuits.

The Turtles’ legal argument is far-fetched but, perhaps due to the complexity of music copyright, some judges have swallowed it, including Colleen McMahon, who initially gave the Turtles permission to go forward with a class action on behalf of anyone whose pre-1972 song has been performed in public or the internet. If this transpires, it would amount to a huge financial punch not just for many bars, restaurants and AM/FM radio stations, but for every digital media company — including YouTube, Apple and Vimeo — that plays Oldies.

On Tuesday, however, Judge McMahon appeared to have second thoughts and told SiriusXM that it may appeal the ruling to the Second Circuit.

“There is indeed a critically important controlling question of law in this case. If the Court’s holding that they do have such a right is incorrect, then significant portions of this lawsuit — including the public performance copyright infringement and unfair competition claims — will have to be dismissed,” she wrote in a decision cited by the Hollywood Reporter, which provides some more legal nitty-gritty on Tuesday’s ruling.

McMahon’s words are a big relief. While there’s no guarantee that the Second Circuit will put a stop to this runaway royalty theory, which has already triggered copycat class actions, it is hard to see how it could do otherwise.

As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, the original decision (and a related one in California) should be reversed for two reasons. The first is that the rulings are just wrong as a matter of law: Santa Clara law professor, Tyler Ochoa, explained why in a mic-drop of a blog post in October.

The other season is that the music industry’s pre-1972 campaign is a cynical misuse of copyright that seeks to trick the public into paying new money for old rope, under the guise of “closing a loophole” (that phrase is industry’s explanation, but it has has unfortunately been taken up by some in the press).

While we do need a new royalty regime for the digital age, it should not involve raising rates in order to grant a windfall for 50-year-old songs. Instead, if everyone is to pay more for copyright (and perhaps we should), let the new money be directed to supporting the many young musicians who would like to earn a living like the Turtles did so long ago.

2014 was another bad year for music sales

Remember iTunes? Digital music downloads may not be dead yet, but the format is quickly following the CD in its decline. New numbers from Nielsen show that digital album sales in the U.S. declined by 9 percent in 2014, to 106.5 million, down from 117.6 in 2013. Including CDs, album sales even fell 11 percent. Digital song sales are also down 11 percent, with iTunes & Co. selling 1.1 billion tracks, down from 1.26 billion in 2013. But there’s also good news for the music biz: On-demand streaming was up 54 percent over 2013, with 164 billion songs streamed throughout the year.