Online music streaming radio is a really competitive arena at the moment. You’ve got Slacker, Pandora, Rdio, Spotify, Last.FM, even streaming terrestrial radio. Recently Google entered this market with Play Music All Access, and we’re pretty confident Apple will eventually arrive with iTunes Radio. Not entirely sure what the hold up with them is, as they kind of created the online music scene, but I digress.
Microsoft certainly doesn’t want to be left out of this market and they’re jumping in now with XBox Music.
The service sounds fairly familiar if you’ve used any other online music streaming solution. Microsoft has a library of around 18 million songs, and you can listen to unlimited music either with ads or ad-free for $10 a month (or $100 a year). After the first six months with the ad supported service however, you will be capped at 10 hours of music per day.
XBox Music Pass allows you to sync your music across all of your gadgets, from your XBox, to phones, tablets, and computers. That might be the smart play here by Microsoft, their music streaming will also come in iOS and Android app flavors. They have to know a large chunk of their XBox live subscriber base probably have phones or tablets from their competitors, but still might consider using the Music app built into their game console.
There’s also a music discovery service called Smart DJ which should function like Pandora, and an update to Windows 8 will allow users to catalog music they find on other sites like Pitchfork to listen to later in their library.
This is good timing on Microsoft’s part. Sure they’re late to this party, but as they’re trying to move forward with their phone and tablet solutions, filling out the media purchasing options for their ecosystem means customers will be more likely to shop in their stores. As we’re getting set for the release of the XBox One, Microsoft is making a compelling argument for their console to be the front end of the entire living room. Plus iOS and Android users wont be excluded.
And, I did mention they were beating Apple to the punch here right? I mean… That’s just weird…