Help, my music is being held hostage by the cloud

A year or two ago I spent a fair amount of time uploading all of my family’s music (several gigabytes’ worth) to Google Music. It seemed like a good bet for a multi-platform household, and with a shared Google account we’ve been able to access and play our music wherever we want with few problems. Sure, Google keeps hiding “my” music in the midst of a bunch of subscription-only music, but there’s usually a way to view only my playlist and, if needed, download the files I want.

Until today.

Today, I was setting up a new iPod Shuffle for the 10-year-old. As I went to download some music from my library in the Google Music cloud, I got a warning saying I could only download each song twice via the web interface, and if I wanted to download more I had to use the Google Music Chrome app.

Okay, that’s sort of odd, but I figured I’d try it because the web interface is kind of slow and clunky. So I installed the app.

Only problem is, Google Music treats the Music Chrome app as a new “device” that I have to authorize separately.

I went to authorize it and found that, oops, I’ve authorized too many devices.

No problem, I thought — I’ll just deauthorize a few old computers were not using any more.

That’s when I ran into a strange error: You have deauthorized too many devices. What?

It turns out that Google only allows you to deauthorize four devices per year. What the logic behind this strange restriction is I can’t imagine, but apparently we’ve already hit the limit.

So I can’t use the Chrome app Google recommends. I can’t authorize it, and I can’t deauthorize any other “devices.” So I’m back to using the clunky web interface, which has its own download restriction, and by the way only allows me to download one song at a time.

Oh, and there is an option to download all the songs I’ve purchased or uploaded, tucked away in the settings menu for Google Music. But guess what happens if you press that button?

This is why people don’t trust the cloud.

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