How do modern people sync their music to Android phones?
June 26, 2017 6:57 PM   Subscribe

How do modern people sync their music to Android phones?

Pretend I have been living under a rock for the last 5 years when it comes to how people listen to music on mobile devices. I get the impression that in the year 2017, most people use Spotify or some kind of streaming music service to play music on their phones.

However, I am still very much stuck in the old school way of 1) downloading music as mp3s and then 2) transferring it to music playing device.

I have no interest in using Spotify since a lot of the music I listen to simply isn't on there. Assume I have all the music I want to listen to in mp3 format.

The problem to be solved: Imagine I have hundreds of mp3s on my computer in various album folders. I don't necessarily want to move all of them to my phone because space is limited, and I am only really into a dozen or so songs at any given time.

The brute force solution would be to manually transfer the individual songs I want to listen to to my phone, and then delete and add as necessary.

But I don't want to do that. I'd like some way of creating a playlist or playlist(s) on my computer that keeps all the files stored where they should be, and syncing them as needed to my phone.

I realize I have basically described iTunes, but I don't want to use iTunes, and I have an Android phone anyway.

Is there some simple to use app suite for PC and phone that will do what I am describing? I am willing to pay money for the app.
posted by pravit to Technology (21 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Should also add that whatever solution needs to allow Wifi transfer, as opposed to manually plugging into my computer.
posted by pravit at 6:58 PM on June 26, 2017

Ok so, I keep quite a bit of music on my phone (micro SD cards being cheap), but when I do change it up I do so wirelessly using an app called ES File Explorer. I have a computer at home set up with Win10 running its native "also make me a media server" function. As long as my phone is on home home wifi, ES File Explorer sees my media serving computer as another device on the LAN and I can either stream directly off it through my phone, or copy files over Wi-Fi to my phone. As far as maintaining and syncing playlists, I'm not sure how that fits into the workflow described here because I copy whole albums and make playlists on my phone media player.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:18 PM on June 26, 2017

This answer does not directly answer your question because as far as I'm concerned in 2017 your media belongs on some kind of home server as opposed to a PC.

All of my music (and movies too) lives on a NAS device at home, in my case a Synology. It has an app for my phone that will allow me to stream music off the NAS device and download it to my phone if I like. It may be able to sync the whole thing but I download to my phone on an artist or album basis depending on what I want to hear. Any other computer/device at home can play music and download off the NAS device and the Android app will let me play music to my Chromecast.

If your home router/internet modem lets you attach hard drives to it to share media as a UPnP device then you can use BubbleUPnP on your phone to play and download your music. On the free version there are limits to how much you can access in a session.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:21 PM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

You want Google play music. Download the computer app, whereupon you can then upload songs into the cloud linked to you account.

Then on your Android phone, the Google play app will then have access to all the songs you have uploaded. Whether by streaming or by you marking available offline and thus downloaded to your phone.

Amazon Music is another alternative that has similar functions.
posted by Karaage at 7:22 PM on June 26, 2017 [16 favorites]

The default Android approach is to point Google Play Music Manager at the folders with your music collection and let it run overnight if necessary to upload them all to Google's servers.

The Google Play Music app on your phone will then let you stream the stuff you've uploaded from Google's servers. It'll automatically cache stuff you've listened to recently on your phone, or you can create playlists and ask that they be kept on your phone.

I don't know if that runs afoul of your requirement not to use a streaming service.
posted by floppyroofing at 7:23 PM on June 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have a 32GB phone with no SD card slot and most of the space is already taken up by apps/the OS so I can't download all the music.

Looking into Google Play Music, thanks.
posted by pravit at 7:29 PM on June 26, 2017

What Karaage said. You don't manage the bits. You prove to someone else that you've already got ownership of the bits, and let them manage it. I use Google Play Music, but I'm sure other services have the exact same usage scenario.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 7:30 PM on June 26, 2017

I don't use the cloud, so I connect my phone to my computer via USB, change the USB setting to the one that allows it to show up as a drive in my file manager, and copy/delete contents of the /Music directory manually.
posted by rhizome at 7:45 PM on June 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

If your phone's storage is already full, then streaming is probably going to be your only resort - I think Google Play Music lets you stream what you've uploaded.

If you're hitting your limit for space with apps and the OS, though, you might want to look in to that - apps and everything that *isn't* music probably only takes up a tenth of that on my phone.
posted by sagc at 7:56 PM on June 26, 2017

Karaage has it.

You said you weren't interested in streaming services because they don't have your music.... well.... get Google Music and you get all the music in the world PLUS you upload your own collection, it is amazing.
posted by Cosine at 7:58 PM on June 26, 2017

I do not trust anyone to manage my bits for me. 100% of the "upload your music to the cloud!" services have had horror stories of people losing rare music associated with them. (This thread took me three point five seconds to find.)

So I manage my own goddamn bits. I have an old Mac Mini running Plex at home. I can stream from the Plex app on my phone. I can go in there and manage it manually by dragging files around. I can sync music to my phone over WiFi. Once synced, it's on my phone, so I can go on a bike tour and not worry about network connectivity.

I know that OwnCloud is popular among a certain class of my friends who no longer want to write cron jobs to sync their music. I don't use it, though.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 8:30 PM on June 26, 2017

The newer version of OwnCloud is called NextCloud. I have also used Subsonic to stream my own music files.
posted by fings at 9:47 PM on June 26, 2017

Once I have money again I am going to set up NextCloud and MediaGoblin (or smth) and my music-everywhere troubles should be over for at least a few years.
posted by rhizome at 12:27 AM on June 27, 2017

MediaMonkey has been my solution - you can create smart playlists like iTunes, and wirelessly sync to your Android phone. Might be worth looking at.
posted by Stacey at 3:33 AM on June 27, 2017

You want Google play music.

Downside: google play has weird issues with mp3 tags so it thinks lots of your music is unknown song by unknown artist even though vlc sees them just fine.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:57 AM on June 27, 2017

I use Google Play Music for convenience, and I back up my music directory with Spider Oak, so I have 3 complete copies of my music folder at all times.
posted by COD at 6:04 AM on June 27, 2017

My wife and I also use subsonic (well, actually madsonic on the server end, but subsonic clients work with it) to make all of our music collection available regardless of where we are. All of our music at her office, or on our phones. On our phones we use dsub (and had used ultrasonic, but had some periodic crashing/skipping issues). We setup 2-4 GB caches, and configure to download all items in a playlist. So long as one is good about loading/changing playlists while one is on wifi, there's no streaming needed. We've configured dsub not to stream on cellular, but if one's got the bandwidth, that's a configurable option.

google play music won't work for large collections. There currently up to 50k, up from their original 20k. However after we digitized our (mostly her) cd collection we're above 50k so that's still not an option for us.
posted by nobeagle at 6:32 AM on June 27, 2017

Spotify will actually let you do this, with the caveat that syncing only works when your computer and phone are on the same wifi network (once you've synced/downloaded the music to your phone, you're good to go).

Guide here.

Basically you need to:

1) Import music into Spotify on your computer
2) Login to Spotify on your phone while on the same wifi network as your computer
3) Your library playlists will then sync. You can then download the playlists that you want to listen to to your phone.
posted by damayanti at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2017

I recommend you look into iSyncr as a solution for what you're looking for. I've invested a lot of time into itunes playlists and this + rocket player (the same app studio's music player have allowed me to use them whether i'm at my computer or phone.

It's not free, but if this is what you wan't its more than worth the price. It does have a trial option that is free.
posted by lownote at 9:05 AM on June 27, 2017

I also use iSyncr. It's a little fiddly, but it works.
FWIW, as of a few months ago, Google Play Music has a battery life bug if you connect it to Bluetooth. I quit using it as the music player on my phone.
posted by cnc at 4:04 PM on June 27, 2017

Thanks everyone. I ended up using Google Play Music. I uploaded all of my songs, and now I can make playlists which get synced to my phone. It monitors my music folders and uploads when it finds something new in there. Pretty nifty. Hope my stuff doesn't magically disappear one day like in the thread linked above.
posted by pravit at 3:55 PM on June 30, 2017

« Older What's the cheapest possible healthcare plan that...   |   Venue ideas for a Friday evening Wedding rehearsal... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.