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Windows 8.1 revamped the Music app turning it into Xbox Music. Xbox Music allows anyone with an Xbox, Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone or even the Web access streaming music no matter where they go for just $10 a month. Let’s take a look at what Xbox Music has to offer.

Xbox Music was introduced into Windows 8.1 during its preview release. It’s also been released on the Web, allowing those who started the service on Xbox to utilize it pretty much anywhere they go for a monthly fee. With over 30+ million tracks, service for users in 15 countries and cloud-based sharing, Xbox Music doesn’t seem like a bad service to try.

How Xbox Music Works

Xbox Music offers new users a 30 day, unlimited trial to the streaming service. After that, you pay a monthly fee for a Xbox Music Pass of $10 per month. This allows you to listen to Xbox Music on up to four devices, sync songs between your computers and devices along with streaming your music to your Xbox 360.

Otherwise, without a subscription, you only have access to ten hours of streaming a month plus the Radio feature.

Getting Started With Xbox Music In Windows 8.1

If you’ve upgraded to Windows 8.1, you may still need to manually update the Music app to Xbox Music. To do this, you’ll head to the Window Store and you should notice a pending update. Update the Music app, and you’ll be ready to use Xbox Music.

If you’ve installed Windows 8.1 on a virtual machine or partition, you should be good to go with Xbox Music from the start.

As long as you are logged into your Microsoft Account – which is also linked to your Xbox Account now – you will automatically sign in to Xbox Music when you open the app for the first time.  This also allows automatic syncing of songs through the service so long as you enable the feature in the Preferences.

Open the Charms Bar, and click “Settings.”

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This will open the Xbox Music settings to go through. You can manage your Xbox Music account as well are your Preferences for the app.

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From the Preferences, you can manually add music on your computer to Xbox Music and choose where or not to sync music to the cloud through your Microsoft Account.

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Now, let’s get to the heart of Xbox Music.

How To Use Xbox Music

Your Collection will consist of music from your library on your PC.

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Xbox Music will automatically try and determine what music on your PC and add it to Xbox Music for you to manage.

Click on “Radio.”

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You’ll be able to build radio stations similar to services from Spotify and Google Music, which give you playback based on related artists. This can be an amazing way to discover new artists and bands to follow.

Creating Radio Stations

Click on “Create new station” to get started.

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You can search for music or you can choose from some of the popular artists.

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When you search for an artist, band, song or album, you’ll be given either a radio station already built for it or other artists related to the original query.

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Clicking on the artist will add the radio to your Radio list, as well as begin playing a track from the original artist. Once that song is done, it’ll move on to a new song related to your original artist.

Xbox Music Playback Options

You can manage playback in Xbox Music in the navigation bar at the bottom of the app.

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This will disappear as you move around the app, you just need to right-click anywhere in the app to gain access to it again.

You’re able to play or pause the track, go back or forward through tunes or change the volume. Clicking “Playback options” allows you to turn on repeat or shuffle.

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Use the Music Discovery Feature

In the left-hand menu, click “Explore.”

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This will open the music discovery feature in Xbox Music, allowing you to go through new albums from popular artists. This is another nifty way to discover new music.

If you click on any of the albums, you’ll go to the album page.

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From here, you’ll get information on the album, such as name, artist, and release date.

You can then begin playing the album, add it to a playlist or buy the album.

Buying a Music Album with Xbox Music

If you want to buy the album to add to your offline collection, click the “Shopping Cart” icon.

You’ll be prompted to enter your Microsoft Account password, then click “OK.”

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Xbox Music will ask if you want to always be prompted to ask for your password before purchase. If you share a PC, ensure this is turned on so nobody accidentally buys music without realizing it. You can then walk through the checkout process to purchase the album and add it to your Collections in Xbox Music.

Below that, you can see the track listing and play a track from anywhere in the album.

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If you head back to the album cover and click on it, you’ll be introduced to a beautiful full-screen layout of information on the artist.

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Clicking on “Show song list” will give you a list of the most popular tracks from the artist for you to play or add to your playlists.

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Managing Playlists in Xbox Music

Speaking of playlists, if you want to create one, click on “New Playlist” in the left-hand menu.

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Name your playlist, click “Save” and you’ll be able to add songs, albums and even whole artists to the playlist whenever you visit their page.

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From the same menu, click on “Import playlists.”

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Xbox music will look for previous Music playlists as well as ones from iTunes to import in. At the moment, there’s no way to import playlists from Spotify, Google Music or other streaming music services online.

Importing Your Music Collection

You can also import music into your Collections by right-clicking anywhere in the app, then clicking “Open file” in the left-hand bottom corner.

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This will automatically open the Music library on your computer. You can select any music from it to add to Xbox Music. If you click on the “Drop Down Arrow,” you can select files and folders from SkyDrive, elsewhere on your PC or over your media network.

Provide Feedback for Xbox Music App

Since the Xbox Music app is still in its testing phases on Windows 8.1, you may encounter issues or bugs. You can click on “Feedback” in the top left-hand corner of the app to open a box to provide that information to Microsoft.

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Anytime you run into issues with Xbox Music, take the time to provide feedback. This is a beneficial way to help evolve the Xbox Music app into something truly competitive with other music services.

Xbox Music On The Web

The Xbox Music Web app works just like the Windows 8.1 version of the app, except in your browser. The only downfall to the Web app is that after the 30-day trial offered, you have to pay $10 a month for access even if you don’t use any other version of Xbox Music.

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The Web app doesn’t offer any music discovery like the Windows 8.1 app. You’ll have to manually search for artists, bands, and music on your own. Any playlists or music you’ve already added or purchased will be available to listen to.

Listening to music in the Web app can be frustrating as well for users since you can’t play an album from start to finish if you select a track in the middle of it.

At the moment, Xbox Music isn’t available for Android or iOS but it can be streamed on multiple devices at once. As you update a playlist on one device, within seconds it will sync with others.

Troubleshooting The Xbox Music App

These troubleshooting steps refer to the Xbox Music app for Windows 8.1.

Error c00d11cd Occurs When You Use Xbox On Windows Apps

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This error seems to occur when the Xbox connection service goes down. Xbox provides support for the issue here, asking that you check your Internet connection, check your Xbox Live account and more.

Music App Opens, Immediately Crashes

After upgrading to Windows 8.1, if you go to open the Music app and it crashed, try to update it from the Windows Store. This should fix the issue according to a Microsoft rep.

Conclusion

Sadly, the Xbox Music app doesn’t seem to have the same capabilities and functionality of other streaming services like Spotify and Google Music, yet. Since its initial launch on Xbox 360 in 2012, Microsoft has developed Xbox Music to compete but it still needs a lot of work. Taking advantage of the Modern UI of Windows 8 and RT is a step in the right direction for Xbox Music, but it’s definitely not worth $10 a month to try on the Web, yet.

Rumor has it that the final version to roll out with Windows 8.1 will include more features that make the barebones Xbox Music app look nothing like what you use today.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Update: XBOX Music is now konwn as Groove Music.

Try Groove Music