Microsoft will be launching Xbox Music on the Xbox 360 tomorrow and the software giant claims their new music service is iTunes, Spotify and Pandora rolled into one. The service looks promising, as it can be enjoyed in three ways: the free option is riddled with ads, Xbox Music Pass costs $9.99 per month for unlimited music enjoyment, and the pay-per-song option allows users to purchase and download songs individually.
Since Xbox Music claims to be so much more than what we know, I think it’s time for another comparison piece. We’ll be pitting Xbox Music against the services it claims to be similar to, including Spotify, iTunes and Pandora.
Xbox Music versus…
Xbox Music: A music service that gives you the option of downloading music for offline listening like iTunes, lets you stream music via cloud like Spotify, and has an artist-based radio like Pandora.
iTunes: An application for Mac or PC that holds all your media files, a place where you can purchase all types of media content from audio, video, ebooks and more. It allows you to download all your media content to all your iDevices.
Spotify: A cloud music streaming service that allows you to share your music to other subscribers.
Pandora: Is an internet radio service that automatically recommends music to subscribers based on their genre or artist preference.
Xbox Music: As mentioned earlier, you can enjoy the service for free but you’d have to put up with the ads, subscribe to Xbox Music Pass for a monthly fee of $9.99, or purchase and download songs or your liking.
iTunes: It is free to download and you can enjoy a lot of free and paid content on the app and you can even share media files to other computers in your home network. You can also rent movies on iTunes and enjoy them on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
Spotify: You can enjoy listening to music for free but it’s laced with ads, an Unlimited Subscription costs $4.99 per month, and the Premium subscription costs $9.99 per month and has mobile and offline features.
Pandora: It’s a free service but like the others, it’s laced with ads. For an ad-free experience, you can pay $36 for a one-year subscription or pay $3.99 for a one-month subscription.
Xbox Music: Initial release will be for the Xbox 360 but will come pre-installed in Windows 8, Windows 8 devices, and Windows Phone 8 and will be available in other platforms by 2013. Will be available in 22 markets worldwide.
iTunes: Available for download on Mac and PC and is available in numerous countries though not all the features are available in all markets.
Spotify: Available for Mac and Windows PC as well as iOS, Android, Symbian, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. It is available in Sweden, UK, France, Spain, Norway, The Netherlands, US, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Australia and Belgium.
Pandora: Can be enjoyed on the web, home-listening devices, and on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices. But it’s only available in the US, New Zealand and Australia because of DMCA’s requirements and protection. They use IP filtering to keep listeners, outside of the three mentioned areas, out.
Xbox Music: Xbox Music Pass, Xbox Music Store, Smart DJ, Cloud music streaming, upcoming cloud storage and social integration features.
iTunes: Hosts all your media files, a place where you can download media content, allows you to share media files to home networks, create playlists, and because of the iCloud integration, all your media content is available on all your connected iDevices, when you want it, whenever you need it. You can also burn purchased content into a disk, though it has a limit, and it also allows you to listen to internet radio for free.
Spotify: Allows users to create playlists, share content on social platforms, listen to music on mobile devices, listen to music while offline, listen to it while on Facebook, artist radio, artist biographies, allows you to purchase songs and more.
Pandora: The new Pandora features a new look which makes it easy to use and is now faster than before. The social integration is still present so discovering content via your Pandora connections is easy. The new Pandora features better search, new control, music feed which is a centralized place to find what your friends and other people with similar music tastes are listening to and liking on Pandora, and you can now create your own profile so you can easily keep track which tracks you thumbs down or up.
Based on the features, Spotify seems to have the best overall service, with the option of listening online or offline on your mobile device so your music experience never stops, unless you ran out of battery. But unfortunately, it’s not available in many countries and iTunes has got that covered, though not all the features are available worldwide.
Pandora seems to be fading a bit into the background since other services also offer internet radio. But Xbox Music is setting out to offer the best quality of all three services, so if it becomes available to more markets and more platforms, I think it has the ability to truly compete in the booming music cloud business.