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How to play background music and audio on Xbox One

Background audio is now available on the Xbox One thanks to the Summer Update, here's how it works!

First, you need an app that supports background audio. At present, only Universal apps such as Cast and the Xbox One Preview version of Microsoft Groove. In the future, more apps will be joining the background audio party, such as the Windows 10 YouTube app myTube.

How to play audio in the background on your Xbox One

  1. First, download an app that supports background audio. Search for Groove Music (only on the Xbox One Preview) or the podcasting app 'Cast' in the store. More background audio apps are on the way, including Pandora, and more. We'll update this article with all the background music apps once they go live!
  2. Using Cast as an example, open the app and find a podcast to listen to using its search tools. Use your cursor and select play.

  1. When the audio is playing, you can then begin multi-tasking, moving into games and other apps.
  2. To access the background audio controls, double-tap the Xbox button on your controller. This will snap the guide. If you have background audio running, it will automatically select the Multitasking tab.
  3. From this menu, you can select track skipping, background audio volume mixer, and select the full-screen button to jump back into the app delivering background sound.

The Xbox One Summer Update also brings Cortana, various other Universal Windows Platform applications and much more to the console. For more information on this summer's update, see the links below!

See Microsoft Groove UWP in action on Xbox One

What's the first thing you'll play on the Xbox One's background audio? Let us know in the comments!

Need more?

Check out our other articles for more info on the Xbox One Summer Update.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

49 Comments
  • California by Blink-182 is the first album I'm going to play with Groove.
  • Why? 0o
  • no Groove yet? really? so it's basically useless outside US, what a surprise...
  • Podcasts only at this point, it would seem...
  • Groove is coming really soon, but yeah the selection isn't great right now.
  • Cast seems to have a really ugly black border on Xbox as well. Not the best introduction to UWP...
  • Groove requires a subscription. The only option for USB - you know, playing music you actually OWN yourself - is a pathetic app that can only load 200 tracks at a time. This is an especially pathetic performance from Microsoft.
  • You can use OneDrive storage (5gb) for free to listen to music on OneDrive.
  • It's pretty much useless in the US too as there is not a single music app that works with it. What a joke. Posted via the Windows Central App for Symbian
  • Hey everyone if you are having trouble playing background music its because there two verisons of groove music one is light blue and one is green you need the green one if you dont have it go to the store and search it 
  • Three days grace!
  • No media player support? They still haven't caught up with the 360.
  • Ridiculous, and then to launch background capability with no apps worth a damn....
  • There is. It's been out for months.
  • How do you use media player to play music in the background? I've tried and it doesn't work.
  • Liar. There is NO capability to use Media Player with Background Music, let alone one that's been "out for months". You're either a liar, or have no idea what you're talking about.
  • No media player support? They still haven't caught up with the 360.
    THIS    ^ ^ ^ The only DLNA player that works without trying to stream the music from the internet that you play, and doesn't waste bandwidth on downloading stock pictures to the box that aren't even relevent to the music you play from your server, is the only player that will actually benefit from background music. FFS, the 360 was doing it years ago. The X1 version of the media player app is frankly a downgrade. Get with the program MS!!
  • 99% of all the Xbox One's problems can be summed as it NOT being an 'upgrade' from the 360. Anyone and everyone expected the Xbox One to be the "360 on steroids" - what we got was not only an entirely different machine, but one which had LESS functionality than its predecessor. Microsoft are likely spending millions on consultants and 'market strategies' and whatnot, when I could solve all their problems with one simple sentence: "Guys, Xbox One should do everything the 360 can do, it should do them better, and it should do even more". This incredibly basic and simple approach seems obvious even to the most feeble minded of simpletons, yet it eludes Microsoft and their team of developers. Amazing.
  • If I could access my pc audio collection through groove someday that'd be great. I'm just not with the cloud streaming wave. I want to store my music locally and play it locally. It'd be nice to be able to access it through wi-fi or something. They obviously want you to buy a GM pass though so who knows where this would be on the priority list if it's even in the pipe. 
  • Supposedly you should be able to play music off local flash drives and/or usb harddrives
  • You can, but you can only load 200 - yes, that's TWO HUNDRED - tracks at a time, and the app doesn't organize them into ANY logical structure, it literally just takes every track from every album/folder and lists them in what seems like a random order. It's absolutely pathetic.
  • Doesnt seem to work with Pandora yet - Unless you need to be a paying member? I'm in the preview program, so I was told that I don't need to wait for any update - anyone else having this problem?
  • I too am having this issue! I'm a preview member but I've yet to be able to use background music!
  • Ya I can't get Pandora to work either.
  • Pandora also not working here. And I just dl'd pandora.
  • Cast works just fine. But Pandora no worky
  • Cast works fine if you want to listen to podcasts. If you want to listen music, which 99.99% of people would rather do, then it's useless.
  • "More background audio apps are on the way, including Pandora, Microsoft Groove, and more." so those are not available yet
  • Same for me, the 'whats new' video showed major Nelson using Pandora, but Pandora must still need to push an update out to their app. Disappointing!
  • Yea mine not working no update since 27th last check at 8 this morn still nothing but another useless groove update
  • A Sonos controller (Phonos or Zonos?) would be outstanding - Groove on Sonos is fantastic - music videos over sonos would be killer!
  • Cast worKS but no other apps. Why the hell do I wanna game to a podcast? So far: worthless
  • I don't think I could enjoy gaming as much with background music play TBH, I'd use it more when browsing the store and thing I think. I guess it depends heavily on the kind of games you play too. Glad to see the feature here in general. When I'm in a game I just like to be in the game as intended. I'd like to see custom soundtracks in racing games more though, so it only plays at the times the game would normally have music going.
  • Obviously you don't play them to deep narrative driven games which have their own, usually wonderful, musical scores. You play them in multiplayer and games that don't feature very strong scores or soundtracks themselves - I never once played Halo multiplayer without my own music until Halo 5 on Xbox One, and I absolutely despise playing it in silence. A few - very few - narrative driven games actually benefit from it to - I remember playing Clive Barker's Jericho on 360, which features a rather bland and mediocre score imo - I played it with Disturbed's fourth album, Indestructible, and not only did the music fit but the song's actually had relevance to the story lol.
     
  • I now need an official UWP app.
  • Major Nelson used the Pandora app in the demo for background music with no problems. I am in the preview program and have yet to be able to get it to work with any of my apps including Pandora.
  • What's the main use you guys have for background audio? Do you like to have a podcast / song playing whilst kicking back on the couch, or do you play music whilst gaming? I find the latter to take away from my gaming experience TBH, unless it's integrated with a racing game, but that's more custom soundtracks really. I think my main reason would just be for playing music/podcasts whilst casually browsing the store. Might even use Edge on the Xbox One a little more once mouse and keyboard support comes down the line.
  • I casually play shooters and sports games and would love to have my own soundtrack of deathmetal. But yeah, some games demand their original music, at least the first play thru. But playing gears of war online to my own music would be pretty killer.
  • And like a true narcissist you assume that what's right for you must be right for everyone. What is it with people like you who keep saying listening to music while playing games 'takes away from the gaming experience'? Do you imagine we're all playing deep, narrative driven games for the first time with Metallica on in the background? No, for god's sake. We play them during the MULTIPLAYER and parts of games where there IS no in-game music. Why is this hard to comprehend? It's like people hear "music while gaming" and instantly imagine playing something like Deus Ex's campaign with custom music, and then go "Well that's ridiculous..." Of course it's ridiculous! No one would DO that....Jeez And 'Custom Soundtrack' is actually what this feature was called on 360. Just because YOU don't see the value in something, stop trying to convince others to see it your way, too. It's bad enough Microsoft don't take this feature seriously as it is without people like you convincing them not to bother.
  • It'll be cool to be able to launch Groove UWP in the background using Cortana. "Hey Cortana, play some........." Maybe one day we could combine commands "Hey Cortana, turn on the Xbox and play some Metallica"
  • It works!!  I can't believe it!  I had written a 10 line burn when the regular Groove didn't work, but in the store, another Groove app with an identical icon but blue instead of green was there and started installing.  If it was the same one I had installed, it would have just launched, so I knew it was different.  And sure enough, it was.  It works great.  Have a big grin now I can't get rid of.  Going to play Dark Souls 2 or 3 now.  Enjoy!
  • Is it the one that u have to pay 10 for a month of music
  • 10$*
  • You don't need to pay for their streaming service (their music).  You can use your own through OneDrive.  The OneDrive thing I'm not happy about.  Shortly after I posted that message above, I lost my collection for some reason and couldn't get it back until the next day.  Also,  I somehow lost an entire folder of music, so make sure you have backups like I do.  Right now it's working perfectly, but I think that some people will have trouble with OneDrive, and they should really fix MediaPlayer for those of us who have large music collections only a few feet from the console in a computer or NAS.  It wastes internet bandwidth playing music from cloud storage, when you could go directly.  Also, you can't use a USB drive or network share, at least currently, with Groove.  I hope they upgrade Media Player so I can move to that instead, but this is working great right now. There's one more thing, although not very important.. The blue app (the app that looks sparse and has white background) was initially the only one of the two that played in the background, but now the green icon (the better app, black background with many more features) is the (only) one that works now in the background.  It seems they switched for some reason.  Maybe this is why I had my collection disappear for a day.. they were making those changes.  So go with the GREEN app.
  • Yes, OneDrive is absolutely useless for me as I have over 40+GB's, 5000 tracks of MP3's on a hard drive and I have NO desire to pay MS a fee to listen to music I already own. The fact they've put in a feature in Groove to access OneDrive but not a USB hard drive proves that they've deliberately omitted this feature to force us to fork out cash for their streaming services - in order to use a feature that on 360 could play your own music from its OWN hard drive.   MS really are trying to screw us on this.
  • Listening to Fracus & Darwin - Hardcore Underground Pod Cast (might not be MP3's yet but its still hardcore and its in the background... Ill take that win.
  • Pandora is useless to anyone outside the US, as it doesn't work due to 'licensing' (region licensing in 2016, amazing). Supposedly Microsoft is hard at work on the Pandora app enabling it to use MP3's from USB hard drives.....This will mean, assuming they achieve this, taht I will be prohibted from playing my OWN music from my OWN hard drives due to 'licensing' issues.... Yeah, you're doing really well shaking that image of 'incompetence' Microsoft....
  • I was pretty excited when I heard about this.  I often like to play a movie and then have background music paying instead of the movie soundtrack.  This is great at parties.  play a surf movie or something while playing music of your choice.  But it doesnt seem that you can do this.  anyone else figure this out?  
  • I really wish Microsoft would actually listen to their customers instead of attempting to rape their wallets at every turn. Background music does not exist on the x1 as it did so perfectly on the 360 and as it stands the only way to make it work is to pay for it with the quite frankly ***** groove music app. I've got to the point where I'm fed up waiting for something that should have been included on day one. After gears has launched I'm going ps4 I've dedicated ten years to a console brand thats predecessor was better.