If you previously bought music on Google Play, you may be wondering what happened to it after Google Play Music was retired in 2020. Here are some answers to common questions about accessing your purchased music library.
What Happened to Google Play Music?
Google Play Music was Google’s music streaming service that allowed users to upload music, purchase music, and stream music. It launched in 2011 as Google Music and was rebranded to Google Play Music in 2012.
In 2020, Google announced that Google Play Music would be retired and replaced by YouTube Music. As part of this transition, Google Play Music was shut down in October 2020.
Why Did Google Retire Play Music?
There were a few key reasons why Google decided to retire Play Music:
- Combine music offerings under one brand and service – YouTube Music
- Provide a more seamless music experience across YouTube and other Google services
- Focus development resources on one music platform
- Compete with other major music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music
While Play Music had an established user base, YouTube Music offered greater potential for growth and integration with YouTube. Retiring Play Music allowed Google to concentrate support and new features into YouTube Music.
What Happened to My Google Play Music Library?
When Google Play Music was retired, Google gave users various options to transfer their Play Music libraries over to YouTube Music.
Uploaded and Purchased Music
For users who uploaded their personal music collection to Google Play Music, or purchased music through the Google Play store, there were a few options:
- Move to YouTube Music – Users could transfer their full Play Music library of uploads, purchases, playlists, and recommendations to their YouTube Music account.
- Download purchases – Previously purchased music could be downloaded to a computer for backup.
- Keep on Google Play until December 2020 – Access to Play Music was available until December 2020 to transfer libraries.
Google aimed to make this transfer process as seamless as possible for users moving to YouTube Music. However, there were some caveats and issues experienced by some users when transferring libraries.
Issues with Library Transfers
While Google tried to make the transfer process smooth, some users reported issues when moving their libraries from Google Play Music over to YouTube Music:
- Missing purchased music – Some purchased songs/albums did not transfer over.
- Loss of metadata – Information like edit dates, play counts, ratings did not always transfer over.
- Upload errors – Issues uploading personal music collections to YouTube Music.
- Playlists problems – Incomplete transfer of playlists.
Google worked to address many of these problems and bugs. However, some users did lose portions of their purchased music and playlists when making the switch from Play Music to YouTube Music.
How to Download My Purchased Google Play Music
If you want to download all of the music you purchased on Google Play Music before it shut down, there are still options to retrieve your purchased library.
Downloading Purchases from YouTube Music
If you transferred your Play Music purchases to YouTube Music, you can download your purchased songs and albums:
- Go to music.youtube.com and sign into your account.
- Click on the Library tab.
- Under Library, click on Downloads.
- Here you will see all your purchased and uploaded music.
- Use the checkbox next to songs/albums to select content to download.
- Click the Download button to download your selected music to your computer.
Re-downloading Purchases from Google Play
If you didn’t transfer your purchases to YouTube Music while Google Play Music was available, you can still re-download purchases directly from Google Play:
- Go to play.google.com/music and sign into your account.
- On the menu, click on My Library.
- In My Library, select Purchased.
- Find the purchased album or song you want to download.
- Click on the 3-dot menu next to it.
- Select Download.
- Follow prompts to download the music to your computer.
This Play Music purchasing functionality is still temporarily available so users can retrieve their libraries. But it may be discontinued in the future, so download purchases as soon as possible.
Using Google Takeout
You can also use Google Takeout to download your full Google Play Music purchase history and library:
- Go to takeout.google.com and sign in.
- Deselect all services except Google Play Music.
- Select Next and then Create Export.
- Receive email when export file is ready to download.
- Download and unzip Google Play Music data.
- Your purchased music will be available to recover.
What Are My Options for Purchased Music?
Once you have downloaded your purchased Google Play music library, what can you do with it? Here are some of the main options:
Add it to YouTube Music
If you want to consolidate your music into YouTube Music, you can upload and add your downloaded Play Music purchases:
- On YouTube Music, go to Library > Uploads.
- Click Upload Music.
- Select the purchased songs/albums you downloaded.
- Once uploaded, they will appear alongside other music in your YouTube Music library.
Store it locally
You can store the files locally on your computer or external hard drive. This gives you direct access to the music files to play on your computer or sync to mobile devices.
Backup to cloud storage
Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive give you lots of cloud storage to back up your music library and access it from different devices.
Import into another music service
Many other music services allow you to upload and access your personal music libraries. Options include:
- Apple Music
- Amazon Music
Importing your downloaded music may allow you to continue streaming it on other platforms.
While the shutdown of Google Play Music was disappointing for many users, there are still options to recover your purchased music library. By downloading purchases directly from Google, transferring to YouTube Music, or using Google Takeout, you can regain access to music bought on Play Music.
What you do with those music downloads depends on your preferences. You can add them to YouTube Music, store locally, back up to the cloud, or import into another music service. Having backup copies ensures you will still have long-term access to music you rightfully purchased, even beyond the life of Google Play Music.
The retirement of Play Music underscores the importance of maintaining your own copies of purchased digital content when possible. As streaming services, stores, and platforms change over time, users should not assume they will have indefinite access. Backing up and downloading when able can help hedge against losing access in the future.
While the transition away from Google Play Music had pains, users still have options to hold onto their purchased collections. With some effort, you can maintain access to music you bought for years to come.