How To: Share One Music Library on Multiple Devices

Nowadays most people have at least two devices they use to consume media (news, music, videos, etc).  If you’re name is Bryce Cooley you have an iPhone, iPad, PS3, Nexus 4, Laptop & Mac Mini as well as Bethany’s iPhone and laptop.  More and more families have an ever expanding amount of devices they use daily for consuming media.  This is great because we can all listen to and watch what we want without waiting to use the one computer with all the media on it.  However there is a down side and it’s a pretty big one, with everyone importing media onto multiple computers and multiple devices your media library can start to get very scattered and it’s hard to know who has what song where.  Even if you can figure that out it may be difficult to get that media onto your device.

I was asked last week to help my friends with just such a scenario.  They have two phones and two laptops, each phone is synced up with the music library on their perspective laptop.  The trouble is when she wants to get songs off his laptop she cannot because her phone is synced with her computer and not his and vice versa.  It’s annoying.  It seems like it should “just work” but it doesn’t .  How then can you accomplish this?  Here are a couple options I have used.  perhaps you will find them useful.

The Wired Solution

Perhaps the least convenient solution, is using an external hard drive.  Here is how this will work.

  • Transfer your music files from all your devices onto one external Hard Drive.
  • Once, and not before, all your music is transferred onto the external, delete the music out of your itunes library. You’re library should be blank now.
  • in iTunes Preferences under the advanced tab change your iTunes library folder to the folder you copied all your music into on your external.
  • Now go to file “Add to Library” go to the same folder you just made your library folder, select it and let it import.
  • Once it completes close iTunes on Computer 1. Open in on Computer 2 and repeat steps 2, 3 & 4.
  • Once both new libraries are setup on each computer using the same external you can start copying your music to your iPhone’s.

The obvious downfall of this solution is no music is playable on your computer unless the external hard drive is plugged in.  You can also not copy music onto your phone unless your external is hooked up to your computer.  It’s not optimal but if having your stuff on the cloud is not preferable, this is functional.

Google Music

Currently free for anyone with a Google account. Time consuming for initial upload, accessible wherever internet connection is available, on certain devices available offline as well. A great solution for a music library of under 20,000 tracks. Certain file formats are not supported.

  • Create a Google Music account here.
  • Download the Google Music Manager App. Add your music library directory and start the upload. Depending on the size of your library and speed of your connection it can take up to 3 or 4 days to upload everything.
  • Once the upload process is done your music is available through the web & after signing in.
  • There are also apps for Android (Google Music) & iPhones (Google MusicgMusic) you can use these to login to your Google Music account.  After your library loads you can start streaming music.
  • Most apps come with the ability to download specific albums or artists for offline listening.  This is also helpful if you’re attempting to listen and the music skips due to slow data speeds or your traveling to places with no connection.  This requires a little pre-planning.

My Suggested Method: Google Music is the simplest solution for sharing one music library. There is little to no setup, offline playback and it works on just about every operating system out there.

Plex Media Server

Use music stored at home on your computer to be available to stream to other phones or computers with Plex installed.

  • Download Plex Media Server, install the application and follow the simple setup instructions to add your content.
  • Allow time for the library to process all your media.
  • Sign up for a free MyPlex account.
  • Download Plex Media Center on your different devices.  Free on computer around $4.99 on Android and iOS.
  • In Plex Media Center sign in to your MyPlex Account.  Plex will automatically connect your computer to your device, load your media and prepare for streaming.
  • Plex will remain accessible to all your devices as long as the program is running on your home computer and your computer is on.
  • I find it handy to set my computer to turn on at 9:00 a.m. and shut off at 1:00 a.m. so I give my hard drive a rest.
  • for a detailed description of how to setup Plex read this detailed article by Lifehacker.

This is not an exhaustive list of solutions. These are just the methods I have tried. What about you? Have you ever run into this problem? What was your solution? Look forward to hearing from you.


Repost from:

Bryce Cooley
I've been doing some form of ministry since 2000. For 13 years I was involved in the youth ministry at Cordova Neighborhood Church as everything from youth intern to youth pastor. God has led me and my lovely wife Bethany to Church of the Foothills where I currently reside as the Digital Publishing Coordinator. I'm excited to see where God leads my wife and I.