Google have just launched their free cloud music storage and streaming service, but in common with most interesting product launches these days it’s restricted to US users only, leaving us island folk mere second-class citizens of the digital world. If you’re anything like me, being denied access only increases your desire to see what all the fuss is about.
So nuts to Google’s restrictions, here’s how to get into the new hawtness from the UK, or indeed anywhere outside the states.
Step 1: Download the Tor Browser Bundle
Tor is a groovy project from some very public-spirited programming characters. Technically, it’s an onion-routed proxy network, where your traffic is passed back and forward between several anonymous links inside the chain before exiting onto the wild Internet. The aim is to make your location extremely difficult for any monitoring entity to track down, which is rather enticing for political activists facing state repression and so on.
All we need to know for the purposes of this guide is that your traffic will appear to originate from wherever your exit point from the network happens to be. So download the Browser Bundle, which wraps up all the technical stuff together with a secure version of the Firefox browser, and extract it to a folder of your choice.
Double click the Start Tor Browser shortcut to start the program.
Step 2: Find a US exit point
We need to appear to be US users, so we have to find a US exit point to use. All Tor relays are operated by volunteers, so there’s no guarantee that one will be running exactly when you need it. If it’s taking you a long time to find a correct one, just go do something else for an hour and try again.
To find out where your exit point is, visit IP Lookup and check the flag beside the WAN listing. We’re looking for the stars and stripes, so if you’ve got something different, we’ll have to switch exit points.
To do that, look at your Tor control panel, and click the Use a new Identity option (shown right). Wait for a moment, then refresh your IP Lookup page to get the location of the new server. If it’s not in the US, repeat until you get one.
Step 3: Sign up for a new US Google account
Some people have reported success with linking their existing Google accounts to Music, but it’s failed more often than succeeded for me. The safest option is to create an entirely new Google account from their US site.
I’ll assume you’re capable of creating a new account yourselves, and move on to:
Step 4: Link your new account to Google Music
Head to the Google Music website, and sign in with your new account details. You’ll hopefully be asked to accept the terms and conditions, and then full access to your account will open up.
You can view, play and edit your songs from the web interface, but to upload from your disk you’ll need to use Google’s Music Manager client. Bear in mind the 20,000 song limit, which is easier to reach than you might think.
Step 5: Install the Android App
Us non-Americans are unable to install the streaming and management application for Android phones from the Market, so I’ve scouted out the latest version wrapped as an APK you can download and install for yourself.
My experience with the streaming features has been limited to well-covered areas, so I’d be interested to see how this works out in places with spottier signal. Feel free to leave me a comment with your impression.