I've been using Google Music for years...I spent about a week while in Glenrosa ripping and uploading all my CD's across about 4 PC's, having all the CD drives whirring full-time, and I have/had a gloriously curated ~6,000 song/50Gb library of music. I've made a lot of use of the hybrid downloaded/streamed data model on my phone (I spend a fair bit of time out of network connectivity...be it holidays or cycling in the middle of nowhere).
Google are now jumping on the "paid services for everything" bandwagon, including shutting down Google Music and transferring everything to YouTube Music...which is not really very good. The main kicker for me is that downloading music to your device is only available in the Premium subscription (£9.99 a month, or ~£120/year). Off-ski fuck-ski they can with that. In the short-term I've moved over to Pulsar, which is an ad-free off-line mp3 player for Android...however the only-offline bit is a bit annoying unless I want to upload the entire library (and as Pixel phones don't have expandable storage, a 50Gb library is approximately half of the available device storage).
So, after a bit of reading, and with literally no prior experience, I'm going to try and do my own in-house media server. The fairly high cost of YouTube Music means I can purchase hardware, purchase one-off licenses (to a limit) and still be up on the deal in very short order.
- Subscription-free access to existing music catalogue on phone (no interest in streaming services)
- Hybrid online/offline - selected tracks/playlists offline, entire music online (current Google Music functionality)
- Only interested in Audio (no interest in video/film/tv services...primary use case is cycling)
- Keep total solution cost under £120 (or 1 year of YouTube Premium, which is what I'm trying to replace)
Current Solution Options
This seems the most common solution. Main challenge would be that I have zero experience with Linux or Raspberry-pi...or anyhting even vaguely similar. From some reading, I would probably also want it headless (aka controlled from my main machine). I have a 128Gb Micro-SD card that can be used as both OS install and library storage. Hardware cost is ~£60 (4Gb model is recommended...2Gb version would work, but very close to the wire), including a case.
For the PlexAmp app, I'm pretty sure that I would need to pay for a "PlexPass" license, and to avoid monthly/year subscriptions, that would be just shy of £100, putting me slightly over budget.
A slightly-less mainstream solution, this doesn't seem to offer a music-specific Android client, however activation costs for the cleint are approximately £5, so significantly cheaper than Plex. Server hardware costs are pretty much the same. I haven't seen any implicit confirmation that the Android client supports offline play (PlexAmp definitely does).
It seems that a pi-based solution is certainly the best way of going about this, however I've so far found even basic setup guides to be a tad confusing (even moreso when you look at headless setup...pretty much every "beginners guide" has some assumption of prior command-line experience...and when you consider that my only assocaition with the word "sudo" is "make me a sandwich" you hopefully get an idea of where I'm starting from here).
The "ideal" for both would be that the Pi would be plugged directly into the router downstairs, and then I somehow (probably something to do with static IP addresses and doing something complex on the router software that I might have once done years ago when I had the Minecraft server sat on my desk) have the client able to stream directly from that from outside the network.
I think Step 1 is ordering the Raspberry Pi and seeing if I can get it running and accessible from my laptop.