I was acknowledged by Hypebot, one of several music news services I follow that X-Box Music and GraceNote have entered into a strategic alliance. GraceNote and The Echo Nest represent two of the biggest metadata solutions for cloud music.
It stands to reason that since Apple iTunes has at its core a GraceNote database, that Microsoft would follow suit with X-Box Music since it closely mimics iTunes for Windows users. X-Box Music also differentiates itself from iTunes in several distinct ways.
For example, X-Box Music is now available as a distributed cross-platform application. X-Box Music became available today for Apple iOS and Google Android. X-Box Music is also available as a Web application and as a Windows 8.1 Panel App. X-Box Music is highlighted on the X-Box One where you can take advantage of X-Box Smart Glass and the full-range Dolby® Digital N1 SurroundBar for maximum high performance audio.
You can free stream X-Box Music on the Web and Windows 8 for six months. I will resort to that option after I trial X-Box Music on my Apple iPhone 4s with the 30 day trial. This device option requires an X-Box Music Pass which translates into having to give Microsoft X-Box Music a charge card to hold your account reservation for the first 30 days. I will cancel on day 30 because I want to experience X-Box Music as a digital music service via AT&T 4G, but I’m not convinced to pay $9.99 a month.
Initial X-Box Music testing has been fun and immediate. It’s not cumbersome and distant like I found the Google Play interface and navigation experience. I was a Zune Music user for three years before I switched to Spotify North America, on Day 1, July 14, 2011. Quite frankly I would have stayed with Zune Music if they didn’t have such a disruptive and unfriendly (rude) non-transition strategy. I was never offered a transition from Zune to X-Box Music. I was orphaned by Microsoft as a Zune Music customer. I resent their lack of acknowledgement and appreciation of my customer loyalty.
I have enjoyed Spotify these past three and a half years. I realize as a technology professional that no technology is permanent. Spotify faces competitive challenges from Google Play and X-Box Music. I don’t see iTunes Radio as a competitive challenge for Spotify nor do I see Pandora, Rdio, Amazon Player or any of the other cloud music also rans as much of a joint threat for Spotify.
I do however see significant challenges for Spotify from next years cloud music solutions Beats Music and Neil Young’s PONO. To be quite honest with you I am leaning heavily towards PONO due to its promise of 100% high-resolution audio. I suspect that X-Box Music is MP3 320kbs just like Spotify but keep in mind Beats Music is sight and audio unseen for me. I am not one of the exclusive few who is testing Beats Music.
I appreciate the Beats Audio music chassis and how intelligent curation will expand and shape my listening experience. I have a great deal of respect for Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre and Trent Reznor. I have yet to experience what the rest of the Beats Music team will bring us from the cloud.
Spotify is readying a December 11th New York City product and strategy announcement (supposedly it has something to do with a new feature that will allow users to pick specific tracks and listen to them on mobile devices for free?) I am eager to see if the 12/11 Spotify press conference will become a pre-emptive strike on Beats Music and You Tube Music (rumored but not formalized (announced) as of this writing) etc. Google Play should be integrated with YouTube Music if Google is smart, which they are 😉
So I continue to test X-Box Music with my ecosystem (iPhone, MacBook Pro (Web) and Windows 8.1 in VMware Fusion). I’d love to experience X-Box Music on X-Box One so I understand how that works and benefits listeners.
It will be an exciting time ahead for cloud music filled with new solutions, increased functionality and dimension from existing players and the anticipated fall-out in a crowded, competitive arena.
To the victors go the spoils!
I suspect that Beats Music will partner with GraceNote too. I’d love to be pleasantly surprised to see a Beats Music and The Echo Nest partnership. Beats Music open music architecture could make it real interesting cloud music battle.