Music app

Google Play Music app cleared downloaded / cached music stored on SD cards, Google is fixing it

If you’ve recently wondered why your music cached and stored for offline playback in the Google Play Music app disappears every time you turn off or restart your phone, good news: Google knows it (now). And if you run into this problem, I bet I can guess one feature of your smartphone: it has a microSD slot. And you’ve probably enabled microSD storage in the Play Music app.

We heard from a reader who actually spoke with Google Play support about this bug and initially got an extremely disturbing response. Fortunately, this answer turned out to be wrong. In order not to confuse anyone by putting the entire false statement in the post, let me summarize. A Google Play representative told this person that Play Music deleting music cached or downloaded to the microSD card every time it is unmounted or “unplugged” from the phone is a copyright protection feature. (Note: even the first part was not correct – it also did if the phone was restarted or turned off).

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This person, most likely, then received a supervisory reprimand, as a second response from Google Play showed the problem was escalating, and the new rep made this behavior clear. is a bug. The answer is long, so if you just want a summary then read on.

First, I want to apologize for the information we have provided you regarding the issue of removing subscription tracks from SD card. After reviewing the details of your case, it appears that the previous agent you spoke with did not understand the issue you are reporting. We have taken immediate steps to address this issue, which should prevent such a situation from happening again in the future. Once again, I deeply apologize for not having a precise understanding of the problem you are having and for not providing you with the correct information about the problem.

I would first like to explain how music is stored for offline listening. Music files downloaded to a device (phone or tablet) only download a cached version of the song file, not the actual .mp3 file. This is done to help minimize the amount of space taken up by the downloaded music. This is also implemented to combat abuse of the subscription service, as music downloading is only accessible through the Google Play Music app for this device and account. This means that a user would not be able to download music to SD card and then take that SD card and use it on another device as the music is being chased to that device and account.

That said, music that has been downloaded for offline listening, whether on internal storage or on the SD card, should never be deleted without the user initiating the deletion. This is a known issue with this service. The good news is that we are aware of this issue and are actively working to resolve it. Thank you for your efforts in submitting these logs earlier, which made us aware of this issue.

Essentially, Google Play Music should never erase music from the microSD card unless you explicitly instruct it to do so. That he does so is not intentional behavior and has nothing to do with it. directly to do with copyright, although it indirectly have a relationship there – more on that in a second. But the short version is, if you’re having this issue, Google is working to fix it (and it looks like it’s probably mostly because our tipster, Michael, pointed it out to them).

This statement has some technical issues, however. Namely, the rep claims that songs stored offline from All Access (this is important – relative to music in your library) are not kept as MP3 files when selected for download. Except he’s wrong, because they are – they’re just stored in a private protected folder (like some sort of basic DRM) where only Play Music should be allowed to play them (oddly enough, on Samsung devices, the original music player app appears to be able to play them as well, although the metadata is removed and the titles hidden). For songs in your library, there is no protection – you have access to these files on the external SD card and as far as I know they are not erased during a restart or even unmount the SD card. It’s just the All Access stuff that seems affected.


Anyway, the big takeaway here is that Google is aware that some cached and offline music goes missing for no reason if you use the external SD card storage in the app, and that they seek to repair it.

Google did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Thank you: Michael


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