The music space is very crowded. Apple is obviously the biggest player, with its iTunes store, along with both Amazon and Google. Plus streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora. But who says there isn’t room for one more?
Microsoft unveiled details about the launch of its Xbox music service Sunday, including dates and some new features it is rolling out.
The music service will be will be launched first on the Xbox console Tuesday of this week, then onto the Windows 8 platform when it debuts on October 26th. It will become available on the other platforms in the coming year, including Windows PCs and tablets, and Windows phones, starting with Windows Phone 8 at launch.
Xbox music will be available in 22 markets worldwide starting tomorrow, and will then be available on Windows 8 in 15 markets. Xbox Music will be coming to new regions throughout 2013.
“The launch of Xbox Music is a milestone in simplifying digital music on every type of device and on a global scale,” Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, said in a statement
“We’re breaking down the walls that fracture your music experiences today to ensure that music is better and integrated across the screens that you care about most — your tablet, PC, phone and TV.”
How does Xbox Music work?
It seems that Xbox Music will work very much like a combination of Apple’s iTunes store, Spotify and Pandora.
Like Spotify, Xbox Music will offer free on demand streaming access to its 30-million catalog of songs in the Xbox Music Store, where users will also be able to buy single tracks or entire albums.
There are some unspecified restrictions to how much free access a user has to the store, as Microsoft will also be offering an ad-free unlimited service for $9.99 a month called Xbox Music Pass. Xbox Music Pass gives its users offline access, as well as access to tens of thousands of music videos.
Xbox Music also has a feature called Smart DJ, which works very much like Pandora, in that it allows users to create instant playlists based on their favorite artists or songs.
Microsoft says that it has a few features coming up in the next year, including a scan-and-match feature. What this means, in essence, is that Microsoft will be able to scan a user’s hard drive, find the music that they currently have available, and then give the users access to copies of those songs on Microsoft’s cloud service. It will allow users to listen to music that is now available in the Xbox Music Store.
There will also be “social features” added in the next year, which will “let you share your music experiences with friends and family.”
Microsoft previously attempted to enter the music world with its failed Zune media store. It was first launched in 2006, and will be officially replaced once Xbox Music goes live tomorrow.
Microsoft is not the only company attempting to get into the music game this year.
In June, Amazon reached a deal with the four major U.S. record companies, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner, for full licensing rights to its music in its cloud player.
The agreement would allow consumers to access their music collection on multiple devices from a central location, through a "Scan and Match" feature.
In September, Nokia launched a free music streaming service available for customers who own a Lumia handset, which included over 150 playlists, including some created by well-known artists, including Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
Nokia Music also offers the Gig Finder feature, which customers can use to find concerts and shows based on their location.
Microsoft was not available for comment.
(Image source: http://www.xbox.com)