Xbox Music, Microsoft’s new all-in-one music service, begins rolling out to millions of people around the world Oct. 16 on the Xbox 360, then to the masses with Windows 8 on Oct. 26.
Xbox Music comes pre-installed and is the default music player for the new Windows 8 operating system. It will feature free, ad-supported streaming of the entire catalog on PCs and tablets as long as users have an Internet connection. Users can also make playlists, discover new music, and purchase and download music.
The all-in-one music service combines the best aspects of free-streaming radio, music subscription services and music purchasing options, all in one elegant package, says Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business Marketing and Strategy.
“There are a lot of individual services that do a good job, but today there isn’t a service which can pull together the benefits of download-to-own, music subscription, or free streaming services,” Mehdi says. “With Xbox Music, what we wanted to do is bring all of that value in one simple, easy-to-use service, then build some additional value on top — make it really beautiful, and have it work across all of your devices. We’ve been able to simplify the music experience in a really powerful way.”
Mehdi says Xbox Music will have arguably the largest music catalog of all music services, with 30 million songs, and that the experience offers a fantastic way of discovering new music. He says Xbox Music also will be the only all-in-one music service that enables users to listen to music in whatever way — and on whatever device — they choose.
“I’m excited as a consumer because I myself am a big music fan and this really will replace all of those other services I’ve been using,” Mehdi says. “From a business perspective, Xbox Music is a great way to show the world what Xbox means for broader entertainment on their phone, tablet, PC or console.”
With Xbox Music, users can listen to individual songs or full albums for free on their Windows 8-based tablet and PC; create music mixes and playlists; create artist-based Internet radio stations; use Smart DJ to create playlists with unlimited skipping; and purchase the music they want to own.
“We’re going to power what we feel is going to be the best music experience for users of Windows 8, and it’s the only operating system on a tablet that can do free streaming because of the rights we’ve secured,” Mehdi says. “It’s a great reason to buy Windows 8.” Xbox Music also has options for those who want to integrate their personal music library into their “digital music life,” says Scott Porter, principal program manager for Xbox Music.
And, because Xbox Music is a cloud-based service, users can take those curated playlists, their favorite artists, and their streaming stations anywhere, and play them on any device.
“I think what we’ve seen over the past several years is that discovering, managing and consuming music has gotten to be hard work,” Porter says. “Our aspirations for Xbox Music are big — to address the multiple ways that people are listening to music, then put those all in one easy-to-use and beautifully curated place.”
In addition, until now, it’s been complicated for users to incorporate their personal collection of MP3s or ripped CDs and have access to all of that music on any device, anywhere they go.
Purchasing an Xbox Music Pass for US$ 9.99 a month will allow users to take that music to the cloud, letting them enjoy the collection they’ve curated on other devices such as Windows Phone 8 and Xbox 360. “All they’ll need to do is sign in, and they’ll instantly have all of their content on that device, including access to the playlists they’ve built,” Porter says.
The Xbox Music app will even eventually be available on platforms such as Android and iOS as well, he says.
Xbox Music launches with a global catalog on par with iTunes, offering 30 million tracks from some of the leading music labels around the world. It will be available on all Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs and on Windows Phone 8 smartphones, and it will be part of the 2012 console update for Xbox 360.
Free streaming on Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs launches Oct. 26 in 15 markets worldwide. Xbox Music Pass will be available for Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 in 22 markets worldwide; it will begin rolling out tomorrow on Xbox 360 in the same markets.
Xbox Music Store will also be accessible on Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 in 22 markets worldwide as devices become available.
Microsoft says it will continue introducing Xbox Music in new regions around the world throughout the coming year.