How to get the most out of Google Play Music

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Google Play Music can stream songs from the web as well as play your local music library.
David Nield/Popular Science

Google’s streaming music service doesn’t get the same attention as some of its other offerings, like Gmail or Maps, but this Spotify competitor is a powerful app, especially when you know how to use it optimally. Below, tips that’ll help you get the most out of the service, even if you’re a veteran user.

But first, a few basics: You can Google Music as a free cloud locker for your own music tracks—you can upload 50,000 songs without paying a dime—or give Google $10 a month and add an unlimited amount of on-demand tunes on top of that, in the style of Spotify.

Now, onward to our guide:

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1. Get your own tracks uploaded

Even if you don’t pay for Google Play Music, you can upload your existing MP3s to the web and stream them to any of your devices. You can use this even if you pay for on-demand streaming, too. It’s especially useful for storing b-sides and other rarities that Google’s streaming service might not have.

The easiest way to upload tunes to Google Play Music is with the Music Managerclient for Windows or macOS, or the Google Play Music extension for Chrome. Tracks and albums can also be uploaded one by one through the Upload Music option on the web app menu.

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2. Improve music quality

If you’re using Google Play Music through the apps for Android or iOS, then the app automatically caps the quality of streamed songs and downloads to save on your cellular data bill. You can change these settings so you always get the highest bitrates at all times.

Open up the app menu, tap Settings, and scroll down to find the three options: Streaming quality on mobile, streaming quality on Wi-Fi networks, and download quality. Set each one up as your data plan and the available storage space on your phone or tablet allows.

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3. Tweak your music recommendations

When it comes to suggested playlists, Google looks at your previous listening history to decide what you might like. You can be more specific about your tastes via this link on the web or the Improve Your Recommendations link under General in the mobile app menu.

By telling Google about the genres and artists that you’re particularly interested in, you can shape recommendations to your tastes. To clear your preferences and start again, go to the Settings page on the web and click Delete Recommendation History.

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4. Fall asleep to your tunes

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