What happened to all the music I bought on Google Play?

Google Play Music was a music and podcast streaming service and online music locker developed by Google. It allowed users to upload up to 50,000 songs from their personal libraries to the cloud for streaming or download. The service launched in November 2011.

In May 2020, Google announced that Google Play Music would be discontinued later in the year and officially shut down in September 2020. As part of the shutdown, Google enabled users to transfer their Play Music purchases, uploads, and playlists to YouTube Music, Google’s other music streaming service.

History of Google Play Music

Google Play Music first launched in beta in May 2011 as a music locker service that allowed users to upload up to 20,000 songs for free from their music libraries to the cloud and stream them on Android devices (Source). Over time, Google expanded the catalog to over 40 million songs for users to purchase and added subscription streaming capabilities (Source).

Some key developments in Google Play Music’s history:

  • November 2011 – Officially launched in the U.S.
  • October 2012 – Launched in Europe
  • May 2013 – Launched subscription streaming with Google Play Music All Access
  • 2014 – Reached over 1 million songs in its catalog
  • 2016 – Rebranded YouTube Red to include Google Play Music subscription
  • 2017 – Reported to have over 40 million songs in catalog and 57 million monthly users

Over its lifetime, Google Play Music grew significantly from its initial beta launch to offering over 40 million songs for purchase or streaming with tens of millions of monthly users before its eventual shutdown.

Google’s announcement about shutting down Play Music

In August 2020, Google officially announced that it would be shutting down Google Play Music by December 2020 and transitioning users to YouTube Music, Google’s new music streaming service (Source). This decision did not come as a surprise, as Google had been shifting focus away from Play Music for some time. However, the announcement was met with mixed reactions from Play Music users.

Many loyal Play Music fans were upset about losing access to the service that allowed them to purchase music, upload their own library, and stream everything in one place. Some users felt YouTube Music was an inferior replacement and lacked key features they depended on (Source). There was also confusion around how Play Music purchases and playlists would be transferred over to YouTube Music.

Overall, while Google aimed to smoothly transition users to its new streaming platform, the Play Music shutdown announcement was met with frustration and skepticism from some loyal fans who still preferred the older service.

Transferring purchases to YouTube Music

Google provided a tool for users to transfer their purchased music library from Google Play Music to YouTube Music. This was done automatically for most users. However, some users faced issues with missing songs and incomplete libraries after transferring.

The transfer process involved Google scanning a user’s Google Play Music library and matching the songs to the YouTube Music catalog. Any matched songs would then be added to the YouTube Music library. Songs that couldn’t be matched were not transferred over.

Some users reported that a significant portion of their purchased songs did not transfer to YouTube Music. This was likely due to licensing restrictions causing certain songs to not be available on YouTube Music. Users complained about losing access to hundreds of dollars worth of music they had bought on Google Play after the transfer.

There were also reports of improper metadata matching during the transfer, resulting in the wrong titles, artists, or album information being applied to songs in YouTube Music. This made it difficult for users to find and organize their music library after the transfer.

Overall, many users were dissatisfied with the transfer process and claimed it did not fully or accurately move their purchased Google Play music over to YouTube Music. This caused frustration, with some users hesitant to purchase music again on YouTube Music due to concerns over losing access in the future.

Source: https://support.google.com/youtubemusic/thread/63415293/serious-problems-in-transferring-google-play-music-to-youtube-music?hl=en

YouTube Music overview

YouTube Music is a music streaming service developed by YouTube to replace Google Play Music. It offers over 70 million official songs, albums, thousands of playlists and artist radio (Source: https://independenceradio365.com/streaming-platforms/youtube-music/). Like Play Music, YouTube Music provides ad-free listening, offline downloads and background play for paid subscribers. However, YouTube Music places more emphasis on music videos and leverages YouTube’s catalog of remixes, covers, and live performances beyond just official releases. It also offers personalized recommendations based on a user’s YouTube watch history and subscriptions.

What happens if you missed the transfer

If you missed the initial transfer window when Google Play Music shutdown in December 2020, unfortunately all access to the Google Play Music app and music library was removed. However, there are still a few options to retrieve your purchased music library:

You can use Google Takeout to export your purchased music library and playlists from Google Play Music. The Takeout data will be a downloadable zip file containing your music files and playlists that you can then manually import into YouTube Music or another music service. See instructions on using Google Takeout here: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3024190?hl=en.

Some users on Reddit were able to contact Google support and have their Google Play Music purchases transferred manually after providing order details: https://www.reddit.com/r/googleplaymusic/comments/11re5fh/sad_i_missed_the_data_transfer_email_sent_by/. However, success may vary depending on location and details.

Unfortunately, there is no way to directly access the Google Play Music library anymore. But with Google Takeout and help from support, users who missed the transfer window still have options to recover their purchased music library.

Listening to purchases offline

If you want to listen to music you purchased on Google Play Music when you don’t have an internet connection, you’ll need to download it for offline listening first. Here’s how to download previously-purchased music for offline listening on mobile:

On the YouTube Music app, go to the Library tab and select Downloads. Here you’ll see any content you’ve already downloaded for offline listening. To download more, go to the Songs or Albums sections and tap the download button next to a track or album. The download button looks like a downward pointing arrow.

Downloaded music will show up in your Library under the Downloads section for offline listening. According to Digital Trends, you can download up to 500 songs for offline listening at a time on YouTube Music.

One limitation to note is that any songs purchased through Google Play Music need to be transferred to YouTube Music in order to download them. If you missed the transfer window, you won’t be able to download previous purchases for offline listening.


When Google announced the shutdown of Google Play Music in May 2020, they offered users the ability to transfer their purchased music library over to YouTube Music until December 2020 (Source). However, many users reported issues transferring all of their purchased music over successfully (Source).

For purchases that did not successfully transfer to YouTube Music, Google did offer refunds in some cases. Users could request refunds through the Google Play Store for purchases made within the last 48 hours. For older purchases, users had to contact Google Play support and provide order information to request a refund (Source). However, refunds were not guaranteed, especially for older purchases.

If purchases did not transfer and refunds were not provided, users unfortunately lost access to music they had previously purchased through Google Play. This caused understandable frustration for some customers who felt they lost money and content.

Alternatives to YouTube Music

For former Google Play Music users looking for alternatives, there are several top music streaming services to consider (source). Some popular options include:

  • Spotify – One of the most widely-used streaming services, Spotify has a large music library and custom playlists. It offers ad-supported and premium subscription options (source).
  • Apple Music – Apple’s music service seamlessly integrates with iOS devices and offers exclusives. It has over 75 million songs and live radio stations.
  • Amazon Music – Amazon Prime members get access to 2 million songs ad-free. Amazon Music Unlimited provides access to 75 million songs and podcasts.
  • Pandora – Pandora radio’s recommendation engine creates customized stations based on your tastes. The on-demand streaming service Pandora Premium provides access to millions of songs.

These alternatives allow you to upload your music library, create playlists, get recommendations, and access exclusive content. Each service has different plans, discounts, and features to consider.


While the shutdown of Google Play Music was disappointing for many users, there are some silver linings. YouTube Music aims to provide a robust alternative, enabling continued access to purchased music libraries. The transfer process allows playback across devices, even offline. And for those dissatisfied with YouTube Music, alternatives like Spotify cater to transferred libraries.

The transition remains ongoing, as features roll out. But Google Play Music purchases live on – adapted and integrated, not erased. Users still have control over their musical libraries. With some adaptation to a new interface, music enjoyment can continue unabated.

For Google, migrating Play Music into YouTube Music unifies music offerings under one roof. Despite initial growing pains, the move streamlines Google’s services. And for listeners, core functionality remains: accessing purchased and uploaded music collections across devices. While change brings questions, Google aims to provide continuity for Play Music users’ musical enjoyment.

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