Friday, January 28, 2022

Replacing Google Play Music: How I Store & Stream 22 GB of My Own Music (MP3s) for a One-Time Cost of $7.99


Ah, Google Play Music... How I miss you!

Once upon a time, I was a loyal and satisfied Google Play Music customer. I used it to:
  • Upload and store thousands of my own MP3 music files (many pulled from my own CDs) in the cloud.
  • Search for and purchase new music as MP3 files.
  • Stream music to my Android tablet and phone.
  • Save and play my custom playlists offline.
  • Cast music to any combination of my eight Google Home speakers.
  • Stream music from my phone to my Android Auto screen and control playback hands-free while driving.
And all this was free of any monthly costs and free of advertising. The only cost was a one-time purchase fee for new songs or albums from the Google Play store.

And then Google killed Google Play Music and replaced it with YouTube Music, which requires that I pay a monthly fee for doing many of the things that Play Music did for free. Worse, they insert ads where there had been none before!

The bottom line: I decided to figure out how to replicate the old Google Play Music experience using free alternatives. And I'm pleased to say that my new music streaming system works great!

My New Cloud Storage & Streaming System

Here are the key components of my Google Play Music replacement:
Using the components above, I am able to do pretty much everything I was able to do with Google Play Music, including casting music to any cast-enabled device. The only thing missing is the ability to initiate music playing by saying, "Okay Google, play [playlist]..." Instead, I use my phone or tablet as a remote control to begin casting a particular playlist via CloudPlayer. Then, once the playlist has started playing on my Google Home or Nest smart speakers, I can use "Okay Google..." voice commands to stop, pause, rewind, tell me the name of the song that's playing, etc. So for a one-time cost of just $7.99 I get pretty much everything I need from my personal, custom-made, ad-free streaming service. **

(NOTE: If I had a TON of my own music and needed more than 22 GB I could buy 100 GB of storage for just $20/year from Google Drive. But, for now at least, I have plenty of cloud capacity so I'm going to stick with my free 22 GB storage strategy.)

So how can you set up your own service like this? It's easy! Below are the steps.

How to Build Your Own 22GB Cloud Streaming Service for One-Time Fee of $7.99

Step 1: Locate all of your MP3 music files. 

Remember, the goal is to upload all your music to the cloud. To simplify that process, you should first locate all your MP3s files and stash them in a couple of centralized locations on a hard drive somewhere. That way they'll be easy to find when you're ready to upload them.

NOTE 1: If some of your favorite music is still locked up on CDs you'll need to "rip" the files. Despite the word "rip," this is a perfectly legal process if you own the CD. It simply means that you copy the music files from the CD and save them as free-standing MP3 files. There are loads of videos and articles available to guide you through this. Here's a basic guide: "How to Rip CDs in Windows 10." 

NOTE 2: If you've been planning to buy new music, now is a good time to do so. You can then include the new stuff in your initial, large-scale cloud uploads. As noted above, my favorite source is which sells individual tracks for a one-time fee of $0.12 - 0.22 (Yes, that's 12 - 22 cents!!) per MP3 song. You then own them free and clear and are able to move them around on your devices as you see fit.

Step 2: Sign up for one or more free cloud storage accounts. 

To use CloudPlayer Platinum you'll need to have MP3 music files stored in a Google DriveMicrosoft OneDrive and/or Dropbox account. CloudPlayer Platinum can access music from all three of these storage services at the same time. However, it will only stream your music from a single account from each service. So if, as I recommend, you get a new, fresh (and free) account for each service, you will have a maximum of 22GB storage available. Specifically, that's up to 15 GB from Google Drive, plus 5 GB from Microsoft OneDrive and 2 GB from Dropbox for a total of 22 GB. 

Note 1: If you need more than 22 GB of storage, you can get up to 100 GB from Google Drive for $20 per year. However, most people won't need more than the free 22 GB total. In fact, I have over 3,000 MP3 files distributed among my three free accounts and I still have plenty of room for more. 

Note 2: Before you begin this process, make sure you are able to use CloudPlayer Platinum. While this is my preferred app for my own Google Play Music replacement, it might not work on your devices. If not, check out these CloudPlayer Alternatives to see if one might work for you. 

Start with Google Drive -- You may not need more than 15 GB of free storage.

I recommend you set up your first clean, free cloud storage account with Google Drive, since it will allow you to store a whopping 15 GB of files for free! If you fill this up, then you can move on to set up a free Microsoft OneDrive and/or Dropbox account as needed. 

[Optional add-on 1] Set up a clean, new Microsoft OneDrive account for another 5 GB of free storage. 

If you already have a partially full Microsoft OneDrive account and you want to get a full 5 GB of free storage for your music, you should set up a new OneDrive account using a new email address. Simply download the app and follow the instructions.

[Optional add-on 2] Set up a clean, new Dropbox account for another 2 GB of free storage. 

If you already have a partially full Dropbox account and you want to get a full 2 GB of free storage for your music, you should set up a new Dropbox account using a new email address. Simply download the app and follow the instructions.

Step 3: Upload your music to your free cloud storage accounts. 

I can't provide you with the exact steps for uploading your music to your new, free cloud storage accounts. But I can tell you this: It's easier to maintain your cloud storage later (i.e., find, move, delete and add files) if you take the time to organize them into logical file and folder structures now, while you are uploading them. And it will be easier for CloudPlayer to make sense of them when it tries to link and play the files for you. What's more, CloudPlayer will allow you to work with these folders on your cloud storage accounts to create playlists, etc. distinct from albums and songs. 

This CloudPlayer screenshot shows some of my folders. Note that they bear the names which I gave them when I uploaded them. If I were to look at the "Albums" view, CloudPlayer would display the commercial album name as it was saved within the MP3 file by the producer. 

Step 4: Install CloudPlayer Platinum on one of your devices. 

Your single CloudPlayer Platinum app and account will work on all your devices, pulling music and playlists from the cloud storage accounts that you set up in Steps 2 & 3. And, amazingly, it will save a slightly different streaming history for each device. However, to get started, I recommend you install it on only one device, such as your phone, until you get comfortable using it. You can then make more informed setup decisions as you add it to your other devices.  

Step 5: Link your cloud storage accounts and set up your unique user preferences.

When you're getting started, the CloudPlayer Platinum app will walk you through the setup process. Be sure to create a single CloudPlayer account to use on all your devices so your playlists, history, cloud storage accounts and usage details are shared across all of them.

Some Key Screens within the CloudPlayer app

It's impossible for me to walk you through your unique setup process. There are a bunch of easy-to-understand choices you'll need to make for yourself. Instead, I'll simply highlight a few of the more important screens so you can get a sense of how the app works. CloudPlayer's user interface is fairly intuitive and self-explanatory, so you should be up and running quickly. 

The Settings Screen

CloudPlayer's main "Settings" screen is where you link your new storage accounts to the app. To see loads of fairly sophisticated audiophile choices, simply scroll down... and down and down... in the "Settings" screen. You'll see there are plenty of ways to customize the app and make it your own.

The Playlists Screen

After you've connected your cloud storage accounts and CloudPlayer has had some time to scan your storage folders, you will be able to set up your own playlists. CloudPlayer automatically generates and continually updates three playlists for you: Recently Added, Most Played and Top Rated. These appear first on your "Playlists" screen. The playlists you create yourself are then presented in alphabetical order. As you can see from my screenshot above, I've forced the app to display several playlists first by giving them asterisks (**) in their playlist titles. 

Note the Cast button at the top of the screen. You can use this to cast your music to any of your Google Home or Nest devices, as well as BlueTooth or AirPlay devices. And at the bottom of this screen you see a mini version of the song player screen. It has a minimalistic set of controls so you can play or pause your song while you're looking at your Playlists. Click on this mini-player to open the full song player screen.

The Song Player Screen

(Note: I'm not sure what CloudPlayer calls this screen, since I haven't seen it referenced by name in their materials. For clarity, I'll simply call it by the name that best suits its function as an individual song player.)

As shown in the example above, the song player screen is clean and efficient, providing lots of control over the song that is currently playing. In the bottom row (left to right) you'll find the familiar "share" symbol, followed by the "favorite" (heart) symbol, the equalizer controls and the Cast button. Above these are the repeat, shuffle, and other playback controls, as well as any album art that was stored with the song. The top left symbol (stack/music note) takes you to a list of what songs are "up next," while the series of dots at the top right produces loads of choices as shown in the next screen sample.

As you can see, that little dots/stack menu at the top right of the song player screen is powerful! It not only adds some controls to your playback experience, but provides tools to research a particular song or manipulate its status in a given Playlist or Queue.


Like any powerful and well-designed app, CloudPlayer gently reveals it's many features and customizable choices as you become more familiar with it. When your decide you need a particular function that seems to be missing, just click on the Settings screen and scroll around a bit to see if it's available. If you want to go deeper, check out this Settings in CloudPlayer page from the CloudPlayer folks or the comprehensive CloudPlayer Help section of their website. 

The bottom line: As I've shown in this article, there's no need to pay monthly fees to stream the music you love. If you already own it (or if you simply pay a few cents per song to own it), all you need to do is upload it to the cloud and let CloudPlayer Platinum stream it to your devices. 


** [Disclaimer - Google Home/Nest smart speaker users note: While the CloudPlayer Help section claims that you can use the "OK Google" voice command to start CloudPlayer, I have not been able to do so despite spending a lot of effort trying. I suspect Google has disabled this capability. In any case, don't waste your time trying to set this up. Instead, just start CloudPlayer from the app on your tablet or phone and then begin Casting to your smart speakers. Then, after playback begins, you can use "OK, Google..." voice commands to your smart speakers to control many playback functions.]

===== Related Posts ====