Xbox Music

Xbox Music for Windows Phone gains Live tile support in new update

Xbox Music for Windows Phone has just picked up its ninth update. Head into the Windows Phone Store and you'll find an updated Xbox Music app with Live tile support! Read on for the full details of today's update!

Version 2.6.224 of Xbox Music is now live. Today's update brings the following:

  • You can now see incredible artist art & visualizations when playing music on your LIVE TILE! Requires Update 1 (OS Version #8.10.14141 & higher)
  • Album art should show up much more reliably in all areas of the app

Xbox Music

Several bugs have also been fixed in today's update. Those bugs are listed below:

  • Performance / page loads
  • Preventing any unexpected app exits
  • Reducing our memory footprint, resulting in less app suspensions & terminations during multi-tasking
  • Addressing playlist duplication issues
  • Cleaning up Recent Plays interactions

We know you all can't wait to see the artist art and visualizations on your Live tile. Keep in mind you'll need Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 for this feature.

Those of you who complain about album art never working should also be pleased with this update. You should see better album art reliability - files with embedded album art via ID3 tags V2.3 and below. Quick guide on adding album art is here:

Let us know what you think of today's update!

Via: Xbox Music UserVoice

Thanks for the heads up everyone!

QR: Xbox Music


Reader comments

Xbox Music for Windows Phone gains Live tile support in new update



Horray! And before you complain about the download link it's fixed.

Edit: While I have the podium. What you all think of Eminem's new song Guts Over Fear?

If its not working for you, just go to the lock screen in settings and turn it on or turn it off then back on. Turning it off then on got it working for me.

Tired the lock screen settings and a restart.  Still gives me 80073cf9 error when trying to install.  Went to chat with support, but they dropped me :(

I've got the same issue. I read one site (from Apr/May) that said unpinning all music tiles and then installing fixes it but I've got like 2 dozen music tiles so I'm not super willing to try it.

I had to unpin the music tile, go into settings turn off lock screen album art, lock the phone, unlock the phone, go into settings, turn on lock screen album art, exit settings, lock phone.   It workey!  Then I pinned music tile back to start screen.

So I've tried all the lock screen hints and unpinned my music tile from the start screen. Still get the failure during install about 2/3 the way through. If it's just the live tile, I can live with the app until they fix the install failure. Happy that there is no lag in my music leading after the last update.

It would have been better if it was something ridiculous like the USA/Russia thingy to be quite honest.
The matter between Israel and Palestine is nothing to laugh about.

How about, "I thought we'd see Obama get off the golf course before MS got their shit together." ? 

Everybody can laugh at that one right? 

Too bad I'm stuck on regular ol' 8.1 thanks to the mystery storage issue that prevents me from updating to update 1. Thanks Microsoft :)

Looks like MS has forgotten to fix this error. There is no update on this issue. I'm stuck on 8.1 and still waiting for cyan as well :(

Why cant you use Nokia's Recovery tool and roll the handset completely back .. then update to 8.1, 8.1.1 and then restore your settings from backup?

THIS!!! MPAtool isn't compatiible with the new Xbox Music since WP8.1, but it works on lockscreen (at least but quite buggy), and if you use the hidden WP8 Music "Hub" remnant. I have tons of music that isn't available on Xbox Music database, so mostly I only have blank background on the app and Live Tile.

The Live Tile in this update only reads the artist background from the app, which is from the Xbox Music service. MPAtool uses the implementation of embedding artist background based from WP7/WP8, which is currently the lockscreen still uses and that's why MPAtool custom background only shows there.

They should to give us MPAtool-like feature built-in in the Xbox Music and also syncs on OneDrive, so the problem of missing artist photo and album art can be solved.

Still I continue to use the WP8 Music "hub" as my main music player. :)

We should start a uservoice for this. We need to be able to update album art and artist pictures on our own.

I think after a few replays I'll like it, I'll start to learn the words. Sia's bit just sounds like Titanium all over again :/ I like Ms second verse

Good update! Now they should bring the ability to pay music with you prepaid microsoft account. Do this microsoft. Its unbelievable that they sell prepaid cards but than do not implement paying with it. Wow. The win 8 tablet app has this feature.

Speaking of that exact song, anybody notice that on the live tile if you play an Eminem song the word "Eminem" shows up on the tile static for a second before actually animating? This was the same issue that happened with 8.0, and it affects multiple artists. I was hoping they would have fixed it but they didn't.

Uhm may because this is no issue? Its be design. It first shows you who the artist is and than plays the animation. That how it should be imo. it doesn't. It shows part of the word eminem, specifically half of an M and half of an E, and then that E and M start moving to show the rest of the word Eminem, and then it repeats. There is nothing gained by showing my half of the letter M and half of the letter E for half a second before animating the word. Plus, this only occurs with a handful of artists, and not with any who have long names.

When are we getting Update 1 from the carriers? any news? Don't want to wait for the new features on my ATT 1020 and can't risk the dev preview on my main phone.



What risk? Has there been phone breaking bugs in the dev previews? There hasn't...


If you don't want to wait for new features, then don't. Stop being paranoid.

Without having heard it I can nonetheless say with near certainty I will not like it. I would be surprised to even consider it to be a classified as a song. I'm excited about this update, though. Still hoping landscape comes back to the wpcentral app. So sick of correcting typos from small keyboard.

Exactly.. I wonder how we all have forgotten about games hub.. Slower app loading really kills me.. I have started loading games from the applist.. Guess this is what msft intended when they removed games tile all together in their previous update.

Lol No! Infact he said in his first verse itself that he don't want retire and if does what f*ck he would do with his life this is the only thing he is good at!

Sam! I've to tell you that YOU HAVE EXCELLENT CHOICE IN MUSIC! I am the biggest fan(stan) of Eminem just like other Stans :) i hope you're too..And the Song "Guts Over Fear" is so deeply hurtful yet truly dedicated song about Eminem's life..He's like enough of the same shit saying in different rhymes he's going real in this song... Awesome Song! Waiting For ShadyXV the Ninth Studio album of Em. Also this song is featured in upcoming movie "The Equalizer"! Watch the trailer on Youtube! And yea Great Job MS awesome update!

Why my xbox music couldn't play after playing more than 20 song? just like a pause and cannot resume anymore. is this a bug or something wrong about my micro sd?

Same here Luke. I don't think I can get artist pictures because the Xbox Music service is unavailable here in India.

I did but still nothing :/ when i open the app the artist cover art is there tho. So why isnt it being displayed on the live tile??!

I got the same problem as you. So all I did was...

1. Go to settings -> lockscreen and turn the "Show artist..." off and turn it back on.

2. I went to XBM -> resume my music -> lock the phone and unlock. Lockscreen started work, but live tile was just live text and green screen.

3. Then I close the app thru multitasking 

4. Unpin the XBM live title

5. Pin the tile back.

6. Open XBM and play some random music. 

7. Wait for the Artist image appear in the background, returned to startscreen and the live tile was working as it should, means: animated text and artist background. 

Hope it helps.

Ps: If doens't try to restart your phone. After all Windows is Windows LOL

Thankyou for the tips, did exactly as you said but still nothing lol. Just an observation, but could it be possible that MPA tool may be influencing this? Cause preciously i attached artist cover arts with it which only appear in the old music hub and maybe they're interfering with each other..

Only certain artists have artist art available. I was shocked to find that MICHAEL JACKSON didn't have artist art, but Mindless Self Indulgence does. WEIRD choices, Microsoft.

I don't know about Eminem but it seems MS don't have Zedd art, it does not show any Album art of Zedd. And will they be adding these features to the screen lock soon? WP wil look beautiful and interactive if info, album art, artist name, songs are shown in the lockscreen while playing.

Hello. I can't seem to get the update. But first, may I please ask when will I get v.8.10.14141? I'm from The Philippines and I'm using a Lumia 630. Thanks! Cheers!

Yes it is! But I guess I'll be the first one to complain. Why can't the animated tile be playing at all times!? I don't like that when you pause the music you get a transparent tile. I would like for the last playing artist to keep it's tile going. I do have to say though, Xbox music live tile has the best animated live tile of all time. The way the name of the artist scrolls looks freaking awesome!!! If this was playing at all times I would love it so much. Also, even the small tile gets artwork!

Already submitted feedback..... I want the WP7 tile. PLEASE make my Start screen light up, including the artist imagery (or "something") of previous artist played. I looooooooovvved how it looked in WP7.

I honestly found that really obnoxious. When I was done playing music, I wanted to be done playing music.

The way it works currently on the app for Windows 8(.1) is ideal. Shows album art in the tile while playing or paused, then disappears once you stop playing music/when the app is closed.

Please elaborate on how that bothered you?

I always liked that the last playing artist stayed on the tile. I always felt that it invited me back into the app as well as showed off my tastes/personality to anyone else if i ever handed them my phone to look at. If i remember correctly, the tile became more animated while actually playing, but the imagery stayed there.

Another possible configuration i would have liked would be to have album covers in your collection flip around on the tile, like pictures of friends do on the people tile.

For me, it really bothers me that the tile is so plain when not actually playing music.

I like having a fully animated and coloful tile that shows off what i like when i'm listening to music, but having a large green, or transparent, tile that says xbox music is ugly imo.

For me it felt kinda haunting. When I'm not playing music: I don't want its memory shoved in my face. I dunno, it's weird.

While I'm mostly unorganized and unobservant, there are a couple things in life that MUST be right, this is one of them.

Microsoft should just settle on one or the other, though, as I'm not fond of toggles. Have a vote on the UserVouice page, let the masses decide.l, because too many toggles is cluttered and ugly.

At least show last, or shuffle all. I thought my screen was supposed to be alive. Not only during certain things.

I want it like on wp7!!!!

WP8 Live Tile is still animated even when there's no music playing, but it's the brand animation not the artist info.
I personally like the WP8 Live Tile when idle, but it would be sweet if they just combine WP7 and WP8 Live Tile. I miss those. :(

yes!  I hate how you can only access it for the first couple seconds and then it disappears.  I don't understand what XBM/MSFT was doing when they released wp8.  I think in wp7, it was originally there.  Then after an update it disappeared.  After mucho complaining, it came back.  only to disappear in wp8.

Haha well your work doesnt go unappreciated that's for sure. Also, I like how this new live tile even updates the small tile size. And im getting different images when I go to the wide tile, kinda cool!

I'm not getting any images, even though they show up in the app itself, just a dark green background. Maybe it'll appear later.

Nobody took up my tip about a firmware update for 1520 yesterday. Or is it only me who got it? Sorry, can't help being a little off-topic

Why don't you people just go to store, go to settings and click "Check for Updates"? It's so much easier than having to worry about broken links and whatnot.

Why would I do that if I found out about the update in this article in the app?
Its not like it was a problem for me, I was just making them aware that it was broken since noone had mentioned it


Its a joke to me everytime they breathlessly announce a feature or update that is effectively years overdue. We can now see INCREDIBLE VISUALIZATIONS on a LIVE TILE?!?!? Holy crap! Wait... I was doing that on my Windows Phone 7.

Every one of these updates should be announced in the form of an apology, because they are still in the hole in this app. Talk to me when they start announcing updates that aren't in the red. Thats when it wont be a joke.

What features does the music player in iPhone & Android have that are amazing that we don't have? I honestly don't know. I used a note 3 for about a week and the music player was ugly and didn't seem to be the best music player out there.

I have never heard loud scratches in between tracks on any music player in 40 years before WP8.1. Now it is a daily part of my life, unfortunately. Hopefully this update fixes that.

1. no scratching noise between songs

2. at least google music does let you control the position of a song that you add to the playing queue, not sure about iOS. I usualy play my music on shuffle then decide to listen to a specific song. I could do that on WP7.1 - 8.0 as the old app would always add a song as "next" if you added it to the currently playing queue. On the new app it gets added to the very bottom, so it wont play after the next song but simply at the very last, i.e. after ~900 songs. Now, as far as I remember, Google play did the same, but it allowed you to go to the queue and move songs up and down. Not perfect, but at least a way to control your queue. Not at all possible with WP8.1

3. Album Art/ID3 Tags. The new Xbox music app has improved a bit since its launch and doesn't break your tags anymore, but album art is still majorly f-ed. Most of my music shows a blank albu cover, allthough I know for a fact it's embedded properly.

4. While it's not as bad as in the beginning, loading lists of artists, albums or songs still takes a considerably large ammount of time 3-4 seconds when entering an artist or album to show the albums or songs respectively. That is with a small selection of my music collection on the device (about 1000 songs), wouldn't want to imagine that with a larger collection.


I dont give a shit about the Live Tile, fix the slow  loading of albums and lists, browsing this app gives me a gastric ulcer.


This is the reason why I went back to Lumia Black + 8.0 yesterday and staying there. I have 1700+ music and scrolling through album in WP8.1 music app is laggy to the poinnt of frustration . Couldn't stand it anymore in Cyan + 8.1.

Right off the top of my head? 

Gapless playback.  You can listen to a concert album, EDM album, or a concept album, like Pink Floyd, without the 3 second gap between tracks.

Also, integrated podcasting, without having to go to a seperate podcasting app, along with iTunes having a large podcasting (audio and video) library, probably THE largest.

No, you can't please me by ripping out a beautiful, functional player and replacing it was crap. Then, making me wait forever to crrrrrawwwllll back to mediocrity. Not gonna shout praise for just barely being given back what was taken away, only a not-quite-as-good version.

You get that, they could have been BUILDING on the excellent experience they already had right? They have not introduced one *new* feature yet. They could have been bring gapless playback, or EQs, etc etc. But instead they're working on bringing us features like, "FEATURE: The app will work, and show a list without hanging! (coming soon.)"

So you'd rather have no update? New feature = editing playlists. We couldn't do that in the old version. Regardless, it's being worked on and we are getting regular updates every two weeks. You're not going to get everything at once. Just as you think gapless playback is important, just as many people complained about the album art and playlist duplication problems.

You're right, we got one new feature. One. Everything else, album art and playlist duplication problems... Yes, those are obviously hugely important! But they never should have been a problem in the first place, right? So remind me why I'm supposed to be full of praise when they finally get around to fixing it?

No, were not going to get everything at once. That would be a perfectly reasonable thing to say to a user of a brand new platform. Now... How long has WP been out? You can't just pretend that the old player was never there. We are not started from scratch here. We are starting from -500.

And no, I would not rather get nothing. But I sure as heck don't think there is any reason to act grateful, as opposed to indignant, about being given back what was taken, or else what should have been here a long, long time ago.

Really, I'm especially *offended* by the announcement on uservoice as if the live tile was a newly invented thing! That was really outrageous.

IF they ever get to beautiful, fast and fluid again, and start adding features on top of that, then sure, lets throw a party.

I mentioned the new feature that popped into my head because it was said that there have been ZERO new features, which isn't true. I'm not going to go through the exercise of revisiting every changelog to convince you because you've made up your mind that you're going to be upset and displeased until it is perfect. 

To be honest, if I had my way, I'd just have the Zune player back on the desktop AND on the phone.  I still don't know how to play my XBox Music Pass content on the desktop without going into the Metro/Tile zone.  Even so, I realize that a new kernal was made and they are starting from scratch, so I'm playing along.  I don't think it helps to constantly be indignant.  This is towards Microsoft, so they can take it...or ignore it.  I think it's destructive because it spills over to how all developers are treated in comment sections and in the forums. People dismiss everything and are in a state of being displeased, no matter what.  Some moron said dismissed Flipagram as "useless" because it didn't connect to Instagram.  

I didn't read the Uservoice announcement, but that live tile IS a new feature for WP8x.  

I think at this point, it is more productive to acknowledge the steps every couple of weeks while not forgetting the ultimate goal.  I don't think it does any good to be so publickly upset, unless your goal is to discourage those who are working to make it better AND to discourage potential new WP users who venture over here to see what's happening with the platform.  

Re dalydose,
The Zune player is still free and still works on the desktop of Windows 8.1. I understand it is a very popular download. It is still amazing to use, listen to and watch. Great visualizations with album art, even more so on my HDTV.

I'll check it out, @Kevin.  I didn't think it would work with the XBox Music Pass though, which is how I have all of my music.

Sorry but consumers have every right to complain and be outraged. This is a product that people have paid for, and it's one that is intrinsically linked to a larger ecosystem - so it's not as simple as just not using said product and buying something else.

When a company like Microsoft releases software in such a terrible state, when they take something that people had previously bought into and strip it to the point of being unusable, when they try to spin basic traits that virtually every music player has had for years as "NEW FEATURES!!!!", when they lie to their customers, etc. then YES. People absolutely have the right to complain and be indignant.

These practices are incredibly anti-consumer - apologizing for Microsoft and implying that people should be satisified, or even grateful, that miniscule changes are being made years after this extremely problematic product was released only empowers Microsoft to continue screwing around, knowing that they are safe from repercussion.

It is not the job of the customer to treat the corporation with kid gloves, for fear that developers might be chased away - rather, it is Microsoft's job to release quality products and services that function well and which will attract consumers and developers. With Xbox Music they have completely and utterly failed to do this. The idea that they might eventually get it up to speed (after failing to do so previously for 2 years) is not enough to justify my faith.

Hit the nail on the head. Some of the comments on here remind me of the Emperor's New clothes. Last time I checked, I was in a country that advocated free speech, not in North Korea, where we all have to synchronously applaud the leader's new ridiculous haircut. Xbox Music still has a long way to go to even be a shadow of what Zune was. Many of us have been patiently waiting on promises for two years. Only after it was neglected to the point of uselessness have they started actually working on it, so we aren't even back to square one yet - they should never have released it in this state in the first place.

Free speech works both ways. Just because you spout out an opinion doesn't mean that everyone has to agree with it or just sit in silence.  Free speech means that another person has the freedom to speak in oppposition to what you are saying. 

I have no idea how your Emperor's New Clothes comment applies here.

New feature = editing playlists

People say that, but so far I have not been able to edit the playlists of my queue. Can people please elaborate (maybe show a how-to) on how they manage their queue?

Thanks. Just as i thought, you can't edit the playing queue.

Note: I like creating my playlists "as I go" I don't see how I could know in advance what order I want to listen to my songs in

You can change the order of the Playlist.  From the web page I linked:

"To change the order of songs by dragging and dropping, tap Reorder (the two arrows icon)."

what you did was editing a saved playlist that was saved on your device. try starting playback, bring up the currently playing playlist, i.e. the playing queue by pressing the icon on the bottom right of the place where album art is supposed to be displayed. Do not swipe left and select the "playlists" option but go to your current queue.

i cant see why I would want to edit a playlist on my device i am not currently playing. I want to re-arrange my current (not-saved) playlist (or queue), add songs to it. remove songs, move songs up/down then be able to properly save it once I am done.

OK, so I started a new playlist and named it "Test". I added two tracks to the Test list. While it was playing, I added a third track and then rearranged them and then saved Test again with the new lineup. 

While you find no reason to edit playlists when you're not playing them, I do it all the time. I'll add tracks to lists and then my lists are ready for my run or doing housework or whatever I want to do.  You *can* edit live though. 

Again, going from your description you are obviously editing a saved playlist, and re-saving it, not your current queue. If you create a playlist with two songs and start playing it only these two songs get added to your queue. If you now add a third, fourth or fifth track to your playlist called "test" and our rearrange these, this won't affect your queue. Xbox music will simply keep on playing the two original songs in the order they were originally in the playlist when you started playback. In order for your changes to the test playlist to affect your current queue you'd have to re-load the entire playlist.

Ofc, with a playlist that only contains two songs, that's not a real issue (appart from being forced to forcefully cancel the current playback, i.e. manual intervention, no way to smoothly transit into your new playback). But if it's a bigger playlist (say, 1000 songs) it's straight up annoying.

We both clearly have a different view on what a feature called "editing playlists" should include. You are obviously very happy with it being crippled to only specific playlists while i want it to include all playlist, including the playlist called "current playback/queue".

I wouldn't call it crippled and I believe you can do exactly what you want to do within the existing feature set.

Your description of what happens when I add a 3rd, 4th, 5th song is inaccurate.  

The feature that I spoke about is "Playlists", which is not what you are talking about. I think you are talking about the "Now Playing" which is different and I don't think it ever worked the way that you are describing.  I'm not sure if it works that way on iOS or Android.  Someone who uses those will have to chime in.  I'm not sure why it is more difficult to add songs to a playlist than to the Now Playing queue.  The playlist is designed to do exactly what you want to do.

I guess we don't agree on this, but please don't assume that I'm settling for something, just because  you call it "crippled".  

I most certainly can't achieve what I am trying to within the current feature set. I was able to achieve it in WP7.1-8.0 because if I added a song from my library to the current queue/now playing/current playback/whatever it might be called in different languages, XBM would automatically put the song I added into the next spot of the queue.

If I had a playback queue of 1000 songs an I was listening to song #369, the song I added would be put on position 370 and after that song finished playing it would return to the "regularly scheduled" playback. Now, XBM adds this song as 1001, continuing the queue for a few hours until I am able to actually listen to that song.

Why should you be exited and pleased with features that were in WP7 years ago! This is not really an update just a patch to get MS out of the shithole they dug for themselves in.




I had this great wallet. You took it, and brought it back to me reinvented with new features like, having nothing in it anymore. And tell me I'm supposed to be excited to get it.


To be fair, the Xbox Music app in Android is horrible also. No lock screen art or any art outside of the app. I canceled my subscription to Xbox music and went with Google all access. The Web version is also very slow. They're really going to loose all their customers if they don't fix it soon.

Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android

3lmanana and jeonsunset, well, a bunch of things already have in the Windows Phone 7, but, what did you two forget is that WP7 is another system with another kernel and totally different construction. When they made Windows Phone 8, they don't updated the system, BUT THEY REWROTE EVERYTHING, so, WP7 and WP8 are different systems with different programming and etc. That's why some things that we have in wp7 are appearing now. Oh, just for reminder, WP8 already have these functions too, but the music+videos hub was gone, so, the same case of transition that was happened with wp7 and 8 are occurring now, they are rewriting the entire app again.

Uh, no, I did not forget that WP8 was a new kernel. This is unrelated to that.

Microsoft made a choice to rip out the native app in 8.1 and replace it with this total junk. They knew it would be nowhere near useful, much less excellent, when 8.1 got released. Worse, they are working with priorities ideals that are far, far removed from what they always sold Windows Phone to be.

The reason they SAID they did this (who knows why really) was to be able to update the app and bring more features more quickly than they could update the OS. Yet, it has taken SO LONG for them to get this app barely functional, that an OS update has *already occurred* in the time they were basically learning to crawl!

In the long term, this way of working is beneficial. Also, it's a music app on a phone, relax and enjoy your life.

All I want is every feature from Zune HD on the phone.  That's what I was sold to get me into Windows Phone 7, and it still hasn't happened.  Now they turned the Zune hub into X-Box Music, X-Box Video, Podcasts, Radio - I never asked for them to be split into 4 apps (5 including synch on the desktop).  It makes no sense to me, and based on actual experience with the apps, X-Box Music is a total failure and I hate even saying the name - too many syllables, too many missing features.  Just give us Zune back.

Really? Thanks for pointing that out, we had no idea those amazing decisions were made therefore leaving us with this POS. Stop defending MS on this one mate. We all know it is the biggest fuckup in the history of WP. I had a Ferrari and I woke up one day to find a fuckin Lada in my garage. It is a joke and its not funny.

I beg to differ with you...

They didn't rewrite everything on this music player.

How do I know...

My 1520 when I had it was throwing Zune error codes every time I tried to purchase anything from the app store .

I spent 3 full days on the phone and a full day at the Microsoft store trying to figure out what was going on with it.

Everything was tried multiple times...Everything the techs at the Microsoft store and 3 tier support could do to no avail. Wiping the phone completely and reinstalling 8.0 still didn't correct it,nor did deleting my Microsoft accounts and setting up new ones..

I never had a Zune account,and never had a gold account either...

The only way it could throw a Zune error codes every time is if there's Zune coding in it that it is using..

Now wither they borrowed something from Zune...I'm not that knowledgeable,but from what I was told for the issues I had they Microsoft techs.

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

Maybe you got Zune coding errors because the backend on their server side still uses Zune error codes. Their server didn't get a kernal change, only the phone app.  The server likely generated the code error.

Nope...not according to Microsoft..the problem is in the application....not in anything else from the explanation given to me. When my accounts were deleted and when one of the techs was logged for the phone,it still produced the error codes..

The problem was unresolvable no matter what was done to the phone. If it was a server issue,it would happen to many people not just me.

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

It's a joke.

It's an old feature and users here are exciting like they got whole new feature.
It's funny to see how short memory they hot

I'm already in bed but I quickly got my purity headphones out and started playing music just so I can see the live tile. Finally!

Live tile not perfect yet but it still good. Maybe one day they can add the artist background in it just like it was before. As for the overall app, it has greatly improved, now I can see almost all my album art and yes it is quite faster.

The artist background is there, check out the screenshots above. Depends on if the Xbox Music service has any images for that artist. It took a moment or two for Eminem to show up at first right after I updated the app. Initially it just had it his name, but a few moments later he pop up. That's Slim for you.

For the ID3 tags, I would suggest media monkey.

When they dropped Zune as the media management/sync client I went to MM, and I actually love it for the organization and detail...

Media monkey is for a PC right? So once you add your ID3 info, you use this same program to sync the music over to your windows phone? You cut n paste to your memory card?

Correct, I edit and organize all my music with MM, but I sync my phone with the Windows Phone app for desktop.

MM is great in that I can have a batch of files from an album and tag them all with the right information that MM pulls from online. If I don't like the cover that it wants to use I would just drop in a jpg. Once my files have their info completed, I can tell MM to organize them in my filesystem by that info eg, j:\Music\[Album Artist]\[Album Name]\[Song Title].mp3 or whatever order I want.

Quite handy for a digitally OCD person like myself. God forbid art is missing from any of my files or a file is in the wrong folder. It gets rough if I have different versions of the same song...

I still use Zune on my Win8 pc for organazing albums and album art. It's still perfectly functional, it just doesnt sync with WP 8.X devices unfortunately. A shame really. They should have just added that ability, how hard could it really have been?

Zune doesn't organize your music directory or put cover art in the ID3 tag, it just creates a jpg. Was not a fan of that. The player itself was/is still beautiful though, for that one reason I haven't uninstalled it.

It works but only with streaming music but it doesn't show the background (just the name) in the live tile when I play a song from my collection locally on my phone.