After the launch of Google China’s free music service we couldn’t resist taking it for a test drive – especially since all the pundits have been saying this was too little too late for Google as Baidu has been offering free (albeit illegal) MP3 downloads for ages.
We must say that on the surface it looked a little shanzhai but once we started clicking, the experience was much better than expected.
Being legal, we had expected that the range of music would be limited. We started off searching for staple Chinese tracks by artists such as 张国荣 (Leslie Cheung) and then moved to Cliff Richard (partially to commemorate President Obama’s gift of iPod to the Queen of England). From there our search led us to Mozart, AeroSmith, AC/DC, Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix.
To our surprise, all these artists were represented in the collection of music that could be downloaded for free.
Sure, we thought, they must have a back log of popular English tracks, but what about other genres and more recent artists? So we did some other searches and also managed to find a good collection from artists such as Flo Rida, Fergie, Lady Gaga, Paul Van Dyk, Ferry Corsten.
If this didn’t impress, not only could you stream the tracks in a popup window (Baidu also does this), but successive tracks you select will be added to the same popup window as a playlist (something that Baidu does not offer). Practically speaking, this means that the Google web music player can be used as an on demand streaming juke box.
The final pleasant shock from this service was that when we downloaded the MP3 files the tracks were all 192kbps and about 6-7MB in size. Simply put, this means that what you have access to is CD quality music files. This quality is rarely available on Baidu since the source of the files are usually suspect.
We know this post sounds like a huge ad for Google but we are very excited that probably for the first time in history, there is an advantage to accessing the internet from China.
And for those of you…well you know who you are. Here’s a link to download Aerodynamic from Daft Punk for less that what you paid to not see them live.