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LAST UPDATED: February 18th, 2020
Even if you're not into the video game craze, you've likely heard of Xbox and recognize their green logo. What you might not know, however, is that Xbox is a whole lot more than a gaming console. It might even be your ticket to streaming music just the way you like it. Years ago, Microsoft set foot in the music streaming industry when they developed Zune, a streaming service that offered a library of 11 million songs. Truthfully, however, Zune never really took off. So in the early 2010s, Microsoft stopped focusing their efforts on it and instead began pouring their energy into Xbox, a product that was already incredibly popular with customers. Xbox Live was a major focus for Microsoft at the time, and customers already used it extensively for video games and other media. So Microsoft developed it even further as a music brand, wanting it to become a major competitor for streaming music. Launched in October 2012, Xbox has headquarters in Redmond, Washington, but now serves 22 countries. In the United States alone, its music library is 18 million tracks large, but on a global level, it offers over 38 million tracks. With access to so many songs, users are sure to find the music they demand. If you choose Xbox to stream music with, these are the pros and cons you'll run into.

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The Good

Xbox as a product is already incredibly popular and, as a creation of Microsoft, has a very positive reputation. Because of this, you can expect good customer support, accessibility on a variety of platforms, and a decent list of benefits. A major factor working in favor of Xbox is its accessibility in 22 countries. Microsoft itself being a global country, its products reach customers in many parts of the world. It also works on the following devices:
  • PCs
  • Tablets and phones
  • iOS and Android
  • The Web
  • Windows Phones
  • Windows 8 devices
  • Xbox consoles
As a subscriber, you'll be able to personalize your music streaming. As if having access to 18 million songs (or 38 million globally) weren't enough to keep you entertained, you'll also be able to:
  • Skip as many tracks as you want. You no longer have to put up with a song just because you've run out of skips. If you're tired of the song or just want to see what else is on, Xbox lets you move on.
  • Create personalized playlists. These playlists can match your mood, location, occasion, etc. It's whatever you feel like listening to right now.
  • Download tracks so you can listen to them offline. Without the need for an Internet connection, you can start listening to your music in a variety of settings at any time.
  • Listen to music without interruptions from ads.
Xbox Music is also connected to the cloud, which makes your life easier. Like other information stored on the cloud, your account-with all your playlists and preferences-can stay stored and ready for you to access whenever you want. Xbox also offers a nice 30-day free trial if you're still not sure if you want to commit to a subscription with them. While some competitors offer only a two-week trial run, Xbox lets you browse their library, experiment with playlists, and test out their perks for an entire month. With streaming music being such an immediate, technology-dependent service, customer service is key too. And Xbox delivers. They offer a variety of ways to contact a representative or other users to ask a question, including:
  • A support page with a ton of links that direct you to billing information, account management, instructions to set up Xbox on a variety of devices, and more. Their support page is intuitive as well. Before getting very far, you have to specify what you need help with (Xbox One, Xbox 360, billing, your account, or Xbox on other devices). Then you'll see links about commonly asked questions, ways to contact Xbox or Microsoft, etc. to get your question answered.
  • Community support forums.
  • Live chat. Plus, they'll give you an estimated wait time until you can speak with a representative! Not many competitors can say they offer that.
  • Tweeting, which can often be the easiest way to make contact.

The Bad

In some ways, however, the Xbox website is somewhat restrictive. True, they provide a variety of options for contacting a representative and getting answers. But unless you have a Microsoft account, it's very difficult to preview the layout for streaming their music. Furthermore, a lot of the information on their site is somewhat vague. It's difficult to find specific information for simple facts, such as the bit rate they play songs at. Simply put, you have to sign in to get answers. Interestingly, Xbox also used to provide a free version for streaming music. But as of December 2014, they took this option away and now require users to pay for a subscription. Called the Xbox Music Pass, this subscription costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. While you definitely get a lot of benefits as a paying subscriber, it's a definite turnoff that Xbox took away their free option. Another, yet minor, disadvantage of using Xbox is that it only lets you stream music through one device at a time. You'll have access to a variety of devices, but if you're streaming from your phone, you won't be able to listen from your desktop at the same time. Chances are you won't need to do this very often, but it's still nice to have the flexibility. Last but not least, Xbox Music is young and somewhat inexperienced compared to other streaming services. They've been in business for only two years, which means they have yet to prove stable enough to please their growing customer base and thrive long-term in a changing economy.

The Bottom Line

Because Xbox Music comes from the well-known, reputable Microsoft, chances are good that it will remain a successful option for streaming music. Despite its short lifespan thus far, it still outdoes some competitors in its market size, library size, and rewards. As the customer, you know you have lots of options for music streaming companies. So what makes Xbox stand out, since it has comparable prices, songs, and features? For the most part, it's unique for its global access and platform accessibility. Especially if you're already an Xbox consumer for gaming, you might feel more comfortable streaming through a business you're already familiar with. But for old and new customers alike, Microsoft aims to please and, through Xbox Music, has expanded its products to now meet your streaming needs too.
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Audrey Mitchell Managua, MN

Xbox music was awesome to have when playing online and also wanting to listen to some music. Good quality and included in the membership.

2 years ago