How to play your personal music collection on Google Home and Chromecast

7 min read

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How to play your personal music collection on Google Home and Chromecast

Google Play Music is currently the best streaming music service for people who have their own music collections. The service lets users upload 50,000 of their own music files, then access the audio on a wide range of streaming devices. It’s a great way to access your own music files from anywhere, and it doesn’t cost a dime.

Unfortunately, the free ride is just about over. At the end of this year, Google will discontinue Google Play Music and push users over to YouTube Music as a replacement. But while YouTube Music now supports music uploads and offers an easy migration tool for Google Play Music users, the transition comes with a catch: YouTube Music’s uploads aren’t playable on Google Home Speakers and Chromecast streaming dongles, at least not without paying $10 per month for a full-blown YouTube Music Premium subscription.

In an ideal world, Google would continue supporting free playback on Google Home and Chromecast devices as a goodwill gesture to longtime users, or at least offer a cheaper upload-only subscription tier. Instead, those who have extensive MP3, FLAC, or other digital music collections will have to start considering other ways to play music via Google Cast.

youtubemusicpayup Jared Newman / IDG

Google to digital music collectors: Pay up to play your own music on your Google-centric speaker systems.

Let’s walk through the options for keeping the music alive on Google Home speakers after Google Play Music goes away in December.

First, a disclaimer

Before we get into the alternatives, keep in mind that none of the options below support launching music by voice via Google Home speakers. You can ask Google to pause, resume, or stop playback, but you can’t select music, fast forward, or rewind. That means you’ll need to use a phone, computer, or tablet to start a listening session and skip tracks.

The good news, however, is that all the solutions I’m about to describe do support multi-room audio. If you’ve set up some groups in the Google Home app, you’ll be able keep casting music to those groups just like before.

Option 1: Plex

Plex is a popular program for hosting media files on one device and streaming them to others. If you have a desktop computer, Nvidia Shield TV Pro, or compatible NAS device, you can install Plex’s Media Server software and host your music files on it, then play the music through Plex’s streaming devices. Plex’s iOS, Android, and desktop web apps all support casting, so you can use them to send music to your Google Home speakers or Chromecast devices. This even works with any Google Home speaker groups you’ve created.

plexgooglehome Jared Newman / IDG

While it doesn’t support voice commands beyond playing and stopping, Plex does let you cast to external speakers.

As for the costs, Plex’s desktop web app is free to use, even with Chromecast devices, but the iOS and Android apps cost $5 each to remove playback time limitations.

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