Google Play Music can act as a central hub for all your audio files. If you subscribe to Google’s service, you’ll have access to Play Music’s catalog of songs, and can also upload 50,000 of your own tracks.
But you can also download the music to your phone! Keep reading to find out how.
Downloading Your Own Music
There are three types of tracks in your Google Play Music Library: tracks you uploaded, tracks you bought, and tracks from a Play Music subscription. We’ll look at streaming tracks later. For now, let’s focus on tracks you own.
Because you own the tracks, you are free to download them from Google Play and use them on your other apps and devices.
How to Download Music From Google Play
If you only want to download a particular album or one of your playlists, it’s easy to do with the official Play Music Android app. Just follow the step-by-step instructions below:
- Open the app and navigate to the music you want.
- Tap on the name of either the album or playlist to open the context menu.
- On the context menu, tap Download.
You’ll receive a notification on your device when the download is complete.
If you want to see which songs you have saved locally through the Google Play Music app, tap on the three horizontal bars in the upper left-hand corner, then scroll down to Downloaded only and slide the toggle into the On position.
How to Download All the Music You Own on Google Play
So far, so good. But what happens if you want to download all the music you own on Play Music—meaning every song you’ve ever uploaded and every song you’ve ever bought?
Clearly, the method we just explained isn’t suitable. It would take an untold amount of time to download every album and playlist individually, and that’s before you worry about accidentally overlooking some of the files.
Oddly, the Google Play Music app does not provide a simple “Download All” button. Instead, you’ll need to revert to the web app and follow a workaround. The Play Music web app is available at play.google.com/music.
The workaround involves creating batches of playlists, with each having 1,000 songs. Unfortunately, Play Music does not allow playlists with more tracks.
To make a new playlist in the Play Music web app, navigate to Music Library > Playlists, then click on the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner and select the large Plus icon. Give your playlist a name (for example, “Temporary 1”) and, if you wish, a description.
Drag the first 1,000 songs in your collection into the list, then repeat the process. Don’t worry about mixing artists and genres; the files won’t be tied to the playlist when they eventually arrive on your phone.
Once you’ve got all your music in playlists, return to the Android app and repeat the download process described earlier.
Listening to Your Downloaded Songs
Now you have downloaded a copy of all your music onto your Android phone. But what’s next?
Unfortunately, you can only listen to the music through the Google Play Music app. That’s annoying for people who use more full-featured music players on Android.
However, more concerningly, you cannot access the original MP3 files without a rooted phone. That rules out a lot of people. If you do have a rooted device, you can browse to Data > com.google.android.music > Files on your device’s storage.
(Note: Making a mistake while rooting your Android device could lead to data loss. Make sure you back up your files before attempting anything).
Use Google Play Music Manager
Although the Play Music web player supports a drag-and-drop interface to upload your songs, a more efficient way of doing it is to use the official Music Manager app.
Did you know that in addition to uploading music, the Music Manager app can also download your music from the service? Best of all, there are no weird restrictions; it will download regular MP3 files that you’re free to move and listen to elsewhere.
Therefore, if you want MP3 copies of your whole music library on your phone, the best solution is to download them using the Music Manager app, then transfer them onto your phone via a USB cable.
To download songs, open the desktop app and go to Download > Download my Library. You can select a destination folder before proceeding.
The Music Manager app is available on Windows and Mac for no cost.
Download Streaming Songs From Google Play Music
Naturally, you cannot (legally) download MP3s of the music Google makes available through its Play Music subscription service (a plan costs $10/month for a single user).
You can, however, download the music for listening offline. This lets you keep listening when you lose a data signal.
To download the music to your phone, tap on an album, playlist, or radio station, then select the three vertical dots and choose Download from the popup menu.
You can see which songs are currently downloading by returning to the app’s home screen, tapping on the vertical horizontal lines in the upper left-hand corner, then going to Settings > Manage downloads.
Consider Using a Different Service
Google Play Music’s 50,000 upload limit is, quite rightly, a very popular feature. But it’s not the only choice you have open to you. If you think the process to get MP3s directly onto your device sounds like a bit of hard work, you’re right.
Instead, you could try using a service that doesn’t alter your files when you first upload them. Services like OneDrive and Dropbox spring to mind. Remember, you get a free 1TB of storage on OneDrive if you sign up for Office 365.
If you’d like to learn more, we’ve covered some little-known Google Play Music tips and tricks that you should check out.