Microsoft in talks with record companies for new music service?

WP Central

With the outlook on Zune (as a service) being fairly bleak, it's somewhat positive to hear rumours of Microsoft engaging with the record labels regarding a potential new music service - or an upgrade to the existing. While the Zune Pass service as a whole is pretty feature rich with download and offline playback functionality, it hasn't been actively adopted as the software giant had hoped, which is largely due to the company not pushing the service out hard enough and market competition.

Windows Phone, Windows and the Xbox console all sport Zune access to a certain extent, but with Windows 8 just around the corner, plans for better multi-platform integration and a more useful (yet user-friendly) service would please many. According to the report over at CNET, HTC and Nokia are in talks with the software giant to partner in the deal. It's not known what the new service would bring to the table, but one would suspect a move towards the likes of Spotify, and possibly place the new music service under the Xbox LIVE branding.

It would be interesting to see an iTunes Match-like feature introduced where subscribers could upload their entire music collection, then stream it over the air to a Live ID associated PC, Xbox and Windows Phone. Microsoft is looking to have the new music service up and running this coming summer. Would you like to see anything altered/introduced? Let us know in the comments.

Source: CNET


Reader comments

Microsoft in talks with record companies for new music service?


This article is bizzare. What's the rumour we are even discussing here? Microsoft is working on expanding its music services? Shocker. Every rumoured feature of this new service is in the existing service.
Zune Pass is fantastic. It's integrated into my computers, Xbox and phone. They need to make Zune apps for iOS and Android. Then market it.

The rumour is Microsoft working on, what appears to be, either replacing or expanding the Zune service as we know it today. This may (or may not) include a rebrand to further unite everything under fewer banners (Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox Live, Office, etc.) with probably more emphasis on "entertainment" with the Xbox.

More in the direction of spotify? what does that mean exactly?
The difference between Zune and Spotify is the lack of a free option, availability outside of the US and brand awareness.
The real problem with Zune is that the name is associated with a player that failed commercially and become a punch line. 
My brother bought a windows phone and didn't realize what Zune was, He had no clue that he can get all the music he wants for 10$/month.
If Microsoft can pay music publishers the same percentage out of the 10$ but use advertising as the revenue source instead a subscription, it will be exactly the same as spotify (at least where Zune is available)
They already have a web based player, a windows app and integration in xbox and windows phone. 
what direction exactly do you mean? create apps for ios/android?

If your brother didn't know what Zune was, that is his problem. Open up the music and video hub, it clearly says zune above music, video, podcasts, radio and marketplace. I'm guessing your brother don't listen to music?

Zune match is probably what they are working on. Paul Thurrott mentioned that "Belfiore specifically mentions storing music and Microsoft Office documents on SkyDrive and then accessing that content "magically" from the phone. He notes that the Windows Phone 8 music experience will be able to stream user-uploaded songs from SkyDrive seamlessly."
I would pay extra for this Microsoft!

My guess is the paid Zune pass won't change but they're working on a free option lime Spotify has. They have by far the most flexible options as it is with subscription/pay per song and downloading/streaming it'd be a shame to throw it all away. I don't think rebranding under xbl will help though because people associate Xbox with games, not music. I also don't think the Zune brand gets enough credit since they already rebranding the service on Xbox to Zune and I don't see a benefit to going back. What they need to do is campaign for it to make sure people A) know what it is (that being the backbone of their entertainment service), and B) know what it isn't (that being a one off joke in a family guy gag) and it doesn't even need to be its own campaign, just show it as a part of the whole experience alongside Xbox and everything else

Hope they grandfather in current subscribers with the $14.99 version (and oh how I wish I had signed up for the annual version).

I would really like to a better smart DJ function. It should be more of a mixture of genre and artists who sound similar.

Sorax states above, "Every rumoured feature of this new service is in the existing service"

That is not true; I do not believe the existing Zune Pass service allows you to upload your entire music collection to the cloud, and then stream that collection wirelessly to your device. If I were able to do that, it would solve my biggest problem with WP7 devices so far (especially 2nd generation devices) - the lack of sufficient memory!

I have a music collection of over 1,000 CD's at home (over 11,000 tracks) that totals just over 85GB (when recorded at 256k), and I want to use my WP7 handset to carry my music with me, not have to carry a 2nd device with me as a dedicated music player!

Why do you need to carry it with you all the time though? Zune has instant streaming (as long as you are on 3G) and instant download. I am not sure I understand what the point of carrying around 85 gigs of music is.
I am not trying to sound like an ass, I just don't understand.

It's funny saying that the outlook is bleak, when it's only just starting up for most of the world. I realise that the USA has had it for years... but the Zune player was practically non-existent in other countries. The Zune pass has only been introduced in places like the UK a year or so ago, and only 3 months ago in Australia. For many people the first exposure to Zune would be on Xbox, except they couldn't buy anything... And more recently on WP7, where they could only buy apps and movies until the recent marketplace expansions. It's going to take a long time for non-wp7 users to hear about zune, and if they've been exposed to it then it will take a long time to realise they can actually buy things on it. I would say the future is bright, they just need more people to know it exists.

I have Zune pass. Love it. I still got the $15 a month download anything & 10 purchases. I really like the idea of streaming everything from Skydrive. My concerns are for those that don't have a wi-fi connection available and a limited data plan. I have unlimited data but at work I listen to podcasts and music all day. I'd eat up 2gb in a couple weeks because I don't have a WiFi connection available.

If they do away with the current Zune model of downloading or streaming unlimited songs and albums of my choosing, I will go right back to pirating music.

I really do not want to upload my ENTIRE collection to the cloud. That's 60,000+ songs and a few days of computer downtime. I love how ZunePass augments my collection. MSFT needs to keep the unlimited music part. Smart DJ could use some tweaks and being able to make playlists on the go would be great.

Personally I love Zune, I find it to be much better than iTunes. MS needs to place more effort developing the platform, integrating the best used features of other streaming and music services. STOP TRYING TO FOLLOW AND JUST LEAD BY DEVELOPING A GREAT PRODUCT...

The display for Zune is what I love best. I can easily find my albums and music very easily vs the way the apple player. I only use apple to purchase music because it has a large music selection, something that Zune lacks. If ms would move towards a larger selection, I would gladly give up apple in a heart beat.

MSFT dropped the ball with the Zune player and software. I have a Zune HD and personally am not a fan of having all of my music on my phone, with the level of talking, texting and surfing i do, adding an mp3 player to that list would destroy my battery life. Zune was a commercial failure for a lot of reasons but functionality and features aren't in the mix. I don't have any suggestions on how they should approach this but dropping all together is a BAD idea! Zune is leaps ahead of iTunes. As it was mentioned earlier MSFT needs to lead they do not need to make a iTunes match anything.

PLEASE make a Dedicated Media Player now that the Zune Players are gone. A HTC Media player with Zune functionality would be AWESOME!!!

But why? I use my WP for my music everyday, and it has minimal impact on battery. The storage is limited, but I solve that by using playlists that I swap out as the mood fits.

Because me personally doesn't like having my phone & mp3 being the same device and the storage limitation & battery life is annoying. On my Zune software it says I have 8778 songs & 102 videos, and I get rid of the stuff I don't use or want every 6 months so I still could be more. My phone can only hold so much.

I would appreciate if Microsoft brought Zune service to non-US countries as well. Even Apple finally managed to do it...

the zune music player on WP is great. From what ive noticed they have a bigger collection than almost any other service ive tried, except iTunes. The smart DJ could be better. Uploading those albums that aren't available on the marketplace to SkyDrive for mobile streaming would be great. Otherwise the only other thing they should change is marketing and rolling the services out to other markets.
For an extra $10/month my windows phone goes from being a perfectly adequate smartphone, to the best mobile music player on the market. That's something the normal smartphone consumer would gobble up like thanksgiving dinner, and that i have yet to see mentioned in a single add for WP7 yet.

I love Zune the way it is, but a free option would be nice. I don't know how I'd handle eating up all that bandwidth, though...
That said, as a Canadian subscriber, they really need to work on getting more tracks available world-wide. I hate seeing albums for bands that I like marked as US-only. :(
There's also a lot more they could add to the service. A band I really like is Pivit, (NOT Pivitplex) and I can't get their tracks on Zune.

There has been talk of rebranding Zune as Xbox Live for several years now. I expect it will eventually be official, but that's all... It won't really be a new service, just a rebranding with more features.

My only complaint about having all of my music in the cloud is that I'm with At&T and only be a limited amount of data I can use each month. Also, in my home area we're still on Edge and not even 4G.

A few months ago I changed my Xbox Live and Zune accounts to use my Paypal account. Now I can't buy music or games on my phone. I like the Zune service alot but whatever changes they make they need a common method to purchase across all devices.

Microsoft needs to expand their artist recognition too. Half of the artists on my phone aren't recognized by Zune, even the popular ones. I think a purchase of or merger with Last.FM could definitely solve this.

Zune isn't even available worldwide yet, so what makes them want to create a new entertainment service? Just because they can doesn't mean they should. Zune is already integrated into their software, they can't just scrap that and put in a new one. For the streaming part, I'm guessing users will be able to upload their music collection to SkyDrive and stream it from there, but really its unnecessary since having a Zune pass can already let you stream music from its whole library.

Well im guessing this new service will be to make Zune or the new service in alot of more countries . Then advertise it alot more in all the supported regions ! Im hoping they keep it similiar to the current Zune and use the same software . Zune Muisc isnt in my country but im hoping it will be and hopefully the same to the current Zune Pass . Also im my opinion i think Zune is a really cool name , shame if the change it .

Whatever they do I just hope it stays out of my way on the phone like the current Zune service does. I only want the ability to transfer music from my PC to the phone and then play it back from the phone. I only buy used CDs from the local record store. Keeping it simple and in my control.

I love the service as is also, however a few tweaks like larger selection, and better smart DJ would be welcomed. I also use the Zune pass on my phone all day and I don't experience any drain on my battery with the Arrive.

Bleak?!? I hope not. I just jumped back over from an iphone-iTunes based world in part for the Zune features! The world just needs more exposure to what it already gives and to go back to the 10-credit model!

One thing I've learned about reading this post is that people here loves Zune!  And so do I; I'm listening to it now!  Hopefully Microsoft realize people enjoy the music platform greatly and will only ensure it gets better in years to come.

I love Zune and highly recommend it to everyone. The problem is they do not advertise it well enough. Also roll it out to ther devices if you can. Get more people to subscribe. When I show it to people they all say "wow I didn't know it was like that.

Well, I've been very vocal in my dislike for the Zune software. Its ok on my phone. But I don't care for the Zune PC. I just feel it's way overdone.

Total agreement about the desktop client. Far too resource intensive and awkward without many redeeming qualities

Im all up for this if it means Zune Pass/New Music Service is in more regions because at the moment its only in a few countries .

Love Zune and have since I bought my Zune 120 years ago.  The only problems I have with it are that sometimes thru X-Box, it gets hung-up on the Smart DJ and freezes on a song that it wont play.  The other issue I have is that it really eats resources on my PC when I hook it up via USB to the point where I need to do a manual restart sometimes.  I don't often hook up via USB but about 1 time a month.  That may be a local problem with my PC though.
I've had the $14.99/mo plan for almost a year now and it will come up for annual reneway on Father's Day.  I can't remember if they will let me renew an annual membership for the $14.99 plan or not since they discontinued it.  Does anyone remember?

I'm on the same plan as you and I've renewed my subscription without losing my 10 credits/month. I hope MS brings ot back for users that are new to ZunePass but I doubt they will. There are months where I use all 10 credits and then there are months where I may use 1 or 2. Either way I love having a choice with an incentive that's inexpensive and convenient and also allows me to obtain music legally while still supporting the artists I like.

I can already stream my entire music collection to any of those devices without uploading to the cloud...  All you need is Windows Home Server 2011.  Either buy one prebuilt or simply build one yourself since it's so easy...   either way it's an awesome option.  It's where all my media is storred and it allows for local and remote access.  I can connect to it directly with my windows phone using the My Home Server app and play back all my music and most of my movies and tv shows.   My media center PC's all run XBMC as their front end and pull everything from the server either hard wired or wirelessly and it works flawlessly.

The biggest problem I have is that their phone app kind of sucks which is a real shame.   If they improved upon that it with things like resuming playback, a better browser and a more robust player it would be really awesome.  But WHS is just another of those awesome products that Microsoft has developed and then fails to effectively push, market or support.  It's really a shame as it is really awesome.

I do wish they'd add Zune Family Pass.
I also could see this as some sort of partnership with Nokia and HTC (and any others) to create a "brand" for their music option. In the US (and those few others who currently have it), it would be the zune service, perhaps slightly tweaked. And the rest of the world would have the Nokia Music service, or something similar. That way they can market it as a single product, but different implementations in other countries.

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