An anonymous reader shares a column: Google Music is dead, and with it one of the few remaining connections I have to the company that doesn’t feel like a gun to my head. The service, now merged haphazardly with YouTube Music, recalled the early days of Google, when they sometimes just made cool internet things. It made it nearly a decade, though — pretty impressive for a one of their products. I’ll just say it up front: I’m a lifelong music pirate. Oh yes, I’ve reformed in recent years, but I’ve got a huge library of tracks that I’ve cultivated for decades and don’t plan to abandon any time soon (likewise you can pry Winamp from my cold, dead hands). So when Google announced back in 2011 I could stream it all to myself for free, it sounded too good to be true. And indeed it was a relic of the old Google, which was quite simply all about taking things that are difficult to do yourself (find things online, set up a new email address, collaborate on a spreadsheet) and make them easier. Google Music — as we’ll call it despite it having gone through several branding changes before the final indignity of being merged into another, worse service as a presumably short-lived tab — was not first to the music-streaming or downloading world by a long shot, but its promise of being able to upload your old music files and access them anywhere as if they were emails or documents was a surprisingly generous one. Generous not just in that it was providing server space for 20,000 songs (!) for free and the infrastructure for serving those songs where you went, but in its acknowledgement of other models of owning media. It didn’t judge you for having 20,000 MP3s — they weren’t subjected to some kind of legitimacy check, and they didn’t report you to the RIAA for having them, though they certainly could have. No, Google Music’s free media locker was the company, or at least a quorum of the product team, announcing that they get it: not everyone does everything the same way, and not everyone is ready to embrace whatever business model tech companies decide makes sense. (Notably it has shifted several times more since then.)
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