How to get Google Music on your UK Nexus 7
If, like me, you’ve recently acquired a Nexus 7 tablet, you may have been excited to spot a button at the bottom of the home screen labelled “Google Music”. Press it, though, and you’ll find it can only play music that’s stored locally. The full online Google Music service isn’t available outside of the USA, presumably due to licensing issues related to Google’s music download service.
That’s frustrating – because Google Music isn’t only an MP3 shop. It also includes a free cloud syncing service. This allows you to upload your entire existing music library (up to 20,000 songs) to Google’s servers, then stream songs and playlists to any Android device via the Google Music app. Since the Nexus 7 lacks the space to store a large music collection internally, it’s a very useful service to have.
And the good news is it’s very easy to get Google Music working on any compatible Android device from outside of the US. In fact, it’s so easy that you have to wonder whether Google is half-hoping this is what people will do, even if it can’t offer the service openly.
All you need to do is sign up for Google Music from a US-based IP address – something you can do from the comfort of your own home by simply using a proxy such as the free Tor system to tunnel your traffic through a US exit node.
Once you’ve signed up (using your regular Google ID), you’ll then be able to use Google Music on your Nexus 7 freely within the UK. You can also “buy” the free Google Music app from the US Google Play store, after which you’ll be able to install it on other Android devices via the My Apps section of the UK Google Play. Obviously we can't guarantee that this trick will work always, and for everyone; but it works for us right now, and a quick Google search indicates that it's working for plenty of other people too.
Using Tor to sign up
Before going on, we must be clear that the sign-up process for Google Music requires you to declare that “you will not attempt to circumvent any restrictions on access to or availability of the Music Services or Music Content." If you choose to violate this agreement, in order to get access from the service from outside of the US, you do so of your own volition and at your own risk. PC Pro is not advising you to do this, or telling you it's OK.
Clear on that? Good. Now, if you’re still interested in how it might be done, here’s how. Start by downloading the Tor Browser Bundle. Extract it to a convenient folder, then launch the “Start Tor Browser” application. This will connect you to Tor and open TorBrowser, a custom version of Firefox that’s preconfigured for proxying.
Next, check whether the external IP address you’ve been assigned by TorBrowser is actually located in the US. There are lots of websites that will tell you this, such as tracemyip.org. If you come up as in the wrong country, or if your location can’t be detected, go to the Vidalia Control Panel window which opens alongside the Tor browser, click Stop Tor, then Start Tor – to get a new address – and refresh TorBrowser. After a few goes you should end up with a US IP address. (If you have trouble getting one at first, try again later in the day, when more US computers will be connected to the network.)
Finally, you’ll also need to download the Google Music Manager to your PC – this is the little tool that handles syncing of your music with Google’s servers. If you have a large music collection it may take a day or two for everything to upload, but once it’s done you can enjoy your music on the go wherever you have wireless coverage – or, if you’re running Google Music over a phone or 3G-enabled tablet, wherever you have a signal. Just be careful of burning through your data allowance!