I am an avid Google fan and customer, praising almost all of their products and being a super fan of the Android mobile operating system. When Google launched Google Music, it was my primary audio player. When Google started to compete with Spotify and online streaming with All Access, I was an early adopter. Is Google Music a perfect music experience? No. But I never expected it to get worse as it progressed.
My problem stems from a work around for a missing feature from Google Music – creating a radio station based on all of my interests rather than one specific genre or theme. I learned that you can play radio stations based on a playlist. Since I have like a small variety of genres of music and it’s reflected in my Thumbs-Up playlist, I created my own playlist with many of the tracks on my thumbs-up list. You can’t start a radio station from any of the auto playlists. Doing this basically adds the missing feature. I’ve used this trick for at least a year or two and it has always worked very well. A variety of genres is played and it’s not all music I thumbed up. I have an opportunity to discover new music this way.
Sometime in the spring of 2016, this stopped working. I would start a radio station from my playlist of favorites, mixing genres. Instead of a variety of music being played, an error message appeared: “unable to play radio station.” At first, I thought perhaps it was a glitch or perhaps Google was having issues. I waited a few weeks and tried again — same error. I waited a few more weeks and eventually forgot about it. When I got bored with my own music a couple of months later, I started to dig much deeper into the problem and seek Google’s help.
Troubleshooting my problem
I started by creating a new playlist of favorites and slowly started to add music and create a radio station. It worked almost every time. As I neared 100 songs, my chances of success began to dwindle. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn’t. I tried removing my newly added tracks to verify it was a problem with specific tracks, but it didn’t prove anything. This is when I reached out to Google for help.
June 21, 2016 – July 8, 2016
I submitted a ticket to Google and received an unexpectedly fast response acknowledging my issue. Support asked me to share my playlists with them to test and verified that the problem existed. They also asked me to uninstall/re-install the Play Music app, despite my efforts to explain the problem persists on the web player as well. I was also asked to sign out and sign back in to Google Music. None of these efforts resolved the issue. It took almost 3 weeks of troubleshooting and sending app feedback logs before the issue was escalated.
July 29, 2016
I had almost forgotten about this issue when I decided to follow up with Google. It had been 21 days for their engineering team to work on the issue, after all. The response I received was that the engineering team was still investigating and who I had been in contact with promised to follow up with me when anything could be shared with me.
I was disappointed that such a problem needs more than 21 days of investigation. I felt like my problem didn’t matter. This is their own product and Google is a very large company that only hires the best in their industries. Surely it wouldn’t take 21 days to identify the problem.
September 16, 2016
This time I hadn’t forgotten, but I figured if it was taking more than 21 days to “investigate,” perhaps they’d need more time to resolve the issue. On September 16th, I reached out to support again to follow-up. I was still not pleased with their response. Three days after my follow-up (Sept. 19) ,support assured me that the bug was filed with the engineering team and is still open. Support also indicated that he had requested a status update and informed their product manager of the issue.
Google is telling me that it had taken nearly 3 months to inform their product manager of such an issue and their engineering team has still done nothing about it. Any other company would treat customer issues as a priority and most would consider customer history in their priority in handling some issues. This proves Google lacks anything remotely resembling customer service and might explain why it is so difficult to get help for Google products from an actual person.
It is now September 20th, 2016 and Google hasn’t updated me on the issue. I’m not surprised considering they hadn’t in my previous attempts to find a resolution. The mere fact that a bug in a work around that adds a feature I have been longing for is not being resolved irritates me to death. Never mind the fact I pay for the service to which no resolution is being made for a problem I experiencing. Will my story reach the masses that need to know about this and put the needed pressure on Google to make change? Not likely — Google operates the largest search engine on the web and may find a way to exclude this from search history. It doesn’t help that my site already lacks any significant traffic to begin with.
However I have a theory that another Reddit user had confirmed with me regarding the issue. The bug is related to uploaded music. For some reason, likely due to a change on Google’s end, the radio feature won’t work with uploaded music. I haven’t tested this yet, but the patterns in my previous troubleshooting make sense. I began to see the error message when I began to add my uploaded music to my test playlist and the error was more frequent when I added more uploaded music. Since I’m an early adopter to Google Music, most of my thumb-ups are uploaded songs prior to the launch of All Access.
Regardless of this error,my work around shouldn’t exist in the first place. Google launched YouTube Music this year which is a similar service to Google Play Music All Access, but for music videos. Surprisingly, there is zero integration between the two products despite offering the same basic service and being owned by the same company. What you like in one doesn’t reflect the line in the other. Additionally, the mere fact the “station” front and center in YouTube Music is a radio station entirely influenced based on the music I like proves Google can create this feature. I shouldn’t have to make a playlist just to play radio influenced on my interests. And I shouldn’t have to wait 3 months and still have no resolution to an issue I reported.
Please share this to any Google Music user or anyone that cares about the quality of Google customer service, or lack thereof.