How to manage devices connected to Xbox Music

Microsoft’s Xbox Music streaming service is free for everyone with a Microsoft account to use. It’s also available cross-platform, on both Android and iOS as well as Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone (plus the web).

Today we’ll be taking a quick look at how to efficiently manage devices connected to an Xbox Music subscription.

Purchasing the Xbox Music Pass

Priced at $9.99 (or $99.99 per year), the Xbox Music subscription opens up a whole new world for consumers. Adverts are removed for you to enjoy a seamless experience, whether you’re on a Windows 8 tablet, iPhone or gaming on the Xbox One. Fully synchronized libraries and playlists join offline downloads.

It’s easy to get started with the pass too. Simply head to the Xbox Music (opens in new tab) website or purchase the subscription through any of the published Xbox Music apps. Job done.

Xbox Music

There’s a slight issue with the Xbox Music Pass, however. Microsoft limits consumers to just four active devices at a time (that's part of the music licensing agreement) This isn't a limitation that prevents other devices from accessing the online content, but subscribers can only download tracks to the four selected products. Luckily, the company makes it easy to switch them out.

Managing devices

There’s a neat interface on the Xbox Music website{.nofollow} where devices can be managed on an Xbox Music Pass. This area will list all devices you’ve accessed the service from, using your Microsoft account.

New devices will automatically be detected and added to this list (with its ever-important device name displayed). To remove any of the listed entries, simply hit the cross button. Note: You can only remove two (2) devices every 30 days. It’s enough for the average consumer, but we strongly dislike the restriction – chopping and changing between a million phones.

When removing a device, the interface will remind you of the above 2 device removal limitation, and will confirm whether or not you wish to continue. That’s essentially it. Really simple.

Manage Xbox Devices

You can quickly access the device management area from the apps (as illustrated above in Windows 8). Hitting “Done” will take you to the main Microsoft account portal (opens in new tab) where the Xbox Music Pass can be configured alongside Xbox Live, Office 365 and other products.

Use the new Xbox Music App, dynamically switch your Windows Phone

Back in December 2013, Microsoft released a beta version of their Xbox Music app for Windows Phone. The app is a precursor to what is coming in Windows Phone 8.1, as Microsoft is removing the built-in apps in favor of ones that can be updated through the Store.

One neat side effect of this change is it gives users the ability to "swap out" their Windows Phone dynamically, ahead of the 'two devices every 30 days' policy noted above.

For example, say you have already swapped out a few Windows Phones for April and you now have to wait 30 days. By using the Xbox Music app, you can in essence bypass that limitation. You're still limited to just four devices, but one of them will be swapped out for this generic 'Windows Phone' one using the app. Switching to another device and logging in with the Xbox Music app will swap it to that one, instantly.

Download the Xbox Music App for Windows Phone 8 here in the Store.

QR: xbox Music

Fan of the Xbox Music Pass? Let us know in the comments how you rate the service.

Further reading:

  • Creating playlists in Xbox Music
Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Free to use?! Am I missing something..?
  • To stream, not to download.
  • Yay! About time!
  • If it is free to use, why does it keep asking me to buy a pass when i open it ? (i am in India and downloaded it by changing region) how can i stream then ? I sign in with my ms account, and then after a few seconds it says buy a pass. I press back and the app continues, but no online functionality (not even bio data). The only thing i can do with it better than my music hub is making playlists. Am i missing something ?
  • You have to change your location. Go to account setting and change your location to USA. that's how i use it on my laptop (India)
  • On my phone or what..? I'm still confused.
  • No, login and listen.
  • Not on phone. Online only. On web. Free.
  • Same in Germany, the phone app only gives a 30 sec preview of the songs.
  • Am i wrong or did you forget to mention its region restricted?
  • If it's region restricted, why do you need to manage your devices?
  • Elaborate, please? What I am trying to say is the full experience of Xbox music is not available ,neither in Windows phone,nor on web. Its not yet enabled in India.
  • So how is that relevant to managing your devices using Xbox Music? You can't have it on your devices, so why are you even reading this article?
  • Really?? We read articles to become informed whether or not we get to take advantage of services/products referenced. You've got to be having a bad day.
  • You said yourself.. "whether or not we get to take advantage of services/products referenced".. You read the article but you still felt the urge to mention that it is region locked.. Okay.. So what? It still has nothing to do with the article's subject which is managing the devices that are connected to Xbox Music. Of course Daniel must be having a long day as well, like most of us but still.. He did not need to point this out, so there's no need for you to question his work. I'd probably react worse.
  • Daniel stated "... why r u even reading this article". I was just commenting that we read articles to become informed whether or not we r going to take advantage of the content. I just believe that he should manage his frustration a tad better in this case.
  • Was that necessary?
  • iTunes Radio on the other hand works everywhere if you have a US account which is easy to make w/o a visa/credit card. Region restrictions are just dumb, we all know that we can easily pirate any song/album/discography found on these streaming services with the same quality and sometimes even better (FLAC), to be honest they only force users to pirate content instead of just listening to the music.
  • This sucks!!! Everyone worldwide should be able to listen to Steel Panther's new cd ALL YOU CAN EAT.
  • i am using it in croatia with no problems with my UK account. :D a little bypass
  • How ? Are you using it for free streaming ? I can open it in India by changing regions, but i get zero online facilities, not even bio data, let alone streaming.
  • i have a xbox music pass (bought on ebay - 3months for 18$) and my outlook and xbox account region is set to UK (this is mandatory for service to work in not -kissmyassMS-supported countrys) we are third world countries, pal. nobody likes us... they dont even want our money so i must do crazy thing to force pay them service i want :D  
  • Oh so you've bought it... I though you were saying you can stream for free.
    And India.. Companies do care about India, but sadly they dont take that much of hassle for India. And Microsoft has some special problem of favouring the only market where it stands in very tough competition (i.e. USA). Here in India they dont have competitors like apple on that big scale, apple is very expensive here, and WP can easily fill that gap of premium phones which dont lag, but it needs the right publicity and the right services (eg all services of bing)
  • 2 points here, "Free" & "Everyone". Then, according to comments above, it isn't free & it isn't for everyone. :'(
  • The cloud syncing is somewhat of a mess on WP... Hopeful it is seamless in WP 8.1. Not long to wait, luckily.
  • Somewhat of a mess? Complete cluster**** would be more appropriate. Been using Xbox music for a while now but I detest that they settled on where they are now for the cloud syncing system. Google Music is multitudes better. With Google Music you can upload up to 20,000 of your own songs from your personal library and listen to them wherever you have internet. No dealing with Xbox trying to match your explicit songs to the edited versions or only half filling an album that you have all the songs to. I don't know why MS is so far behind with this... Very frustrating.
  • I was sugar coating it, but I feel your frustrations. I won't be too mad unless the 8.1 update doesn't solve the issues you mentioned, they've gone on too long.
  • Yeah Xbox Music needs a huge overhaul and I need to be able to attach documents to an existing email thread or else I'm probably jumping ship to Google. Say what you will about how they use peoples information but I personally don't feel I have anything to hide and its pretty damn cool when you're watching YouTube on your TV at your parents house and your brother is watching YouTube on his Android phone and it asks if you want to project what you're watching on your phone to the TV without you having to do anything. Google is pretty awesome in the way they connect all of their services and make everything seamless. I was hoping that MS would get there but it's taking way too long in my opinion. To not be able to attach files to an email without using a link... this has been around for all other OS since the beginning of time...
  • Totally off-topic.
  • To a degree. Just getting a little rant in while explaining my frustration that MS has complete disconnect with so many of their services, currently...   But you're right, this article was about how to add and remove devices from your subscription. That is something MS figured out decently well. But managing your collection between devices, not at all.
  • When it comes to Xbox Music I like my analogies, so here comes another.... After Leonardo DaVinci finished his 7th revision of Mona Lisa, he let people see it and those that did were amazed at how revolutionary it was compared to what had come before. Then somewhere between doing his 8th revision, he unfortunately hits his head while getting out of the bath and after a bit of time he decides to complete version 8. Instead of finishing off his undoubted masterpiece, his skills have left him and just scribbles aimlessly over it with crayons and poster paint hand prints. There ends the unfortunate analogy of MS's journey with regards to portable digital music.
  • Nope, not a fan especially with how poor the apps are on Windows platforms.
  • Can my Zune HD be added?
  • ;D
  • I'd really like to know how many people actually use Xbox Music. I really love the service but I wonder how well it's doing against Spotify, Beats Music, etc. Seems like a pretty saturated market. I will say this about Xbox Music, the cross-platform app experience has improved by leaps and bounds from when it was first released. Hopefully they'll keep adding features back from when it was "Zune."
  • I love it!!! I still pay $14.99 with 10 free songs a month. It works great on my Windows Phones. It Sucks on my Note 3. No downloading and it skips and freezes constantly. I heard it's a Kit Kat issue. Samsung has a new service called Mik Music. Its lile Pandora without commercials and a AWESOME UI. It's only for Galaxy devices now. I constantly email Samsung about releasing it on their ATIV line.
  • It seems the only way to download your 10 free tracks is to fire up Zune on the desktop, correct? Since I never use it anymore, I forget to grab them sometimes. Is there a way to get them outside of Zune???
  • I'm in the same boat as you but nope, Zune software only.  Also, you have to be careful as in some cases when you buy a song through zune, xbox music will recognize it, but won't be able to do cloud matching.
  • Yes, on my 920 I buy songs with my free 10 songs all the time. My Zune HD still works, but I haven't bought new songs for it in forever. I think they disabled Zune Marketplace purchases...not?
  • I see that Rich is a fellow trance fan :)
  • Hmm if I still pay $14.99 can I buy a years service with a discount?
  • No, I am on the same plan and no, we can't.   I wish I had switched to the yearly option back when I had the chance.
  • the stand alone app is great but its annoying it has to attempt to sign in before you can play anything and if im somewhere with no signal i have to go through the original app
  • So I have been having a problem when I download (not purchase) a song on my phone it does not sync with my other devices. Does it sync with only purchased songs???
  • Nokia music is better
  • Nokia MixRadio is my favorite curated music service but when I want to listen to more of a specific artist I use Xbox Music. It's very rare that Xbox doesn't have what I want.
  • Same here. MixRadio is consistently excellent for spinning great playlists of similar sounds - try starting with something like a jazz piano trio or an Irish fiddler - the playlists they'll provide actually give you an amazing music education. Xbox Music is better for pinpointing an artist or album. I have a pass this year because I got the half off deal... been getting my money's worth. I'm looking forward to seeing if there are any interface changes in WP 8.1 and if they improve searching.
  • Xbox services are all I ever use.
  • So, would it make sense to remove your desktop and Xbox from the list, since those devices will (should) always have access to house hold internet?  Those devices would still have unlimited, ad-free streaming, right?  And playlists would still work, right? Then, just allow phones/tablets to the list. It is pretty annoying that they would add these restrictions, considering how widespread they're trying to make the Xbox Music presense.
  • Free to use? Not on my Lumia 920. Even when I'm signed in to my Microsoft account (I am very deeply entrenched in the MSFT ecosystem, across all devices and services) I am told I need an Xbox Music Pass to access the app on my phone. Ridiculous. People should be able to use the device to listen to their own music collection without signing up for the service. A cash grab, plain and simple.
  • That's changing in 8.1 The current Xbox Music standalone app is kind of a "beta."
  • Like Nokia mix, Xbox music should have an offline playlist/radio option. Once I hit a dead spot in my network on my commute, songs stop playing, won't play at all, or will only play clips of songs. I realize you can download songs but it still verifies via connection when transitioning between songs. I still use it regardless simply because its so good on my surface.
  • Anyone got any tips on managing your collection across multiple devices? The wife and I are on incredibly small data plans to save money so streamign doens't work real well, but my wife is plagued by duplicate songs and albums when she tries to use the Windows Phone sync app.  I've tried going in and clearning them out, but frankly with over a thousand songs it's a PITA. (the windows 8 app seems to hide the duplicates, but the phone is less forgiving.)
  • Use wma instead of mp3 and all the duplicates will be gone   
  • Well yes, but that's a bit of a kudgle, and not all of her music sync'd with teh cloud, so she'd lose some (we tried filtering folders to cut out some of the extranous crap, but that had mixed results.)   Oddly this wasn't a problem in WP7.   I've considered using the new app and just downloading everything directly to the phone, but it gets to be annoyign to go through and add new stuff on each device.
  • You don't need to convert everything 15 songs will do(the ones you have on your pc). Sync the newly created wma files to yor phone and leave it there for like 5 days. After the 5 days erase every media file from your phone and then sync your old collection (you can replace the one that were converted to wma with the original ones) and all your troubles will be gone. (don't use wmp as it will 5 to 6 copies of every track)
  • Exactly. I don't know how MS thought they could get away with this half-baked implementation of syncing music. It is a complete mess - it's like they never even thought about syncing... As if it never occured to them that someone might actually care for some control over the syncing of their music between devices. I really get the feeling that NO ONE as MS uses any MS services other than Windows, Office, and the Xbox consoles.
  • They could have just renamed Zune to Xbox music instead of replacing with that piece junk which creates 5 copies of every bloody track in my library
  • EDC LV 2014!
  • I paid about £80 here (UK) for a years subscription and will probably renew again in October so i had it when it didn't have a dedicated app, plenty of improvements and am hoping for the same in 8.1 update, always believed that a shortcut to audio from library, which would allow users to set sound preferences to genre of music playing and more importantly, set and save preferences unless changed, should be a no-brainer. Would like to see screen allowed to remain active whilst plugged into AUX1 setting in vehicle or voice activated artist recognition, allowing to change albums, artists etc handsfree.
  • Please elaborate " on the free to use". I've been trying to use it for about 9 months now. Across three phones.
  • It's free to use if you're just streaming music online but it has ads as well and you cannot download the music to your phone. If you pay monthly for it or even yearly, you don't have to worry about ads and you have unlimited downloads :)
  • Also, you have to have an active Microsoft account. Which is kinda obvious but I figured I'd just throw that out there ;)
  • Ok thanks. Now if you can tell how to stream it, I would be extremely grateful.
  • I can't listen it for free.. My acc is set for USA, but still can't.. It wants Pass..
  • The only issue I have with Xbox Music is that it will only let 1 device stream music at a time. So, if my wife is streaming music at home, I can't stream music at work.
  • On my account, I can only remove ONE device every 30 days.
  • I agree...something is amiss. I've never been able to use the standalone Xbox Music app for free streaming. It always requires a pass. I think the free streaming is actually only available in Windows 8 or the web. I've not been able to use it successfully on on phone or Xbox
  • Free streaming online only.
  • how about if I just want to listen to MY OWN MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!  What am I supposed to use?
  • Anyone knows how I can delete an album from my phone without removing that album from my collection? The only way I found to do that so far is to delete it from my PC when my phone is plugged in... Which is pretty bad when you're on the road and need to quickly free up some space on your phone.
  • Really? I tried to delete an album stored locally on my phone but then it still showed up in my collection under streaming. PC is the only place I can actually remove songs from my streaming collection.
  • Thanks for the reply Matt. Is this from the standard music app or from the new beta music app? I'm using the standard music app since the new beta app takes 15 minutes to load my huge music collection. And what I mean by deleting from the PC into my phone's folder using Windows Explorer and delete the files directly from the music folder. It deletes the files but doesn't affect your collection.
  • I hope the official Windows Phone 8.1 app will be better than the current beta app, because the beta app takes about 15 minutes to load my music collection... everytime I launch the app...
  • Have it. Works great no complaints on a 1520. Only thing I'd like (they may have it and I just missed it) is the ability to share an account with a spouse like office365... My wife and I both pay separately since we both have windows phones with separate Ms accounts (office365 handles this flawlessly... I simply added her MS account as an authorized user and it sent her an invitation. Now she can use office with her own MS account on her own devices... Xbox music should be the same way).
  • Yes, I'm in the same boat as well. It's incredibly frustrating that we cannot share the same Xbox Music account. They really need to FIX this!
  • The first paragraph of the article is misleading. Xbox Music is not free on Windows Phone. You will only see your purchased music and your local content. On Windows tablets you can stream from the Xbox Music catalog with ads. Some music is restricted. You need an Xbox Music pass to stream from the Xbox Music store on Windows Phone.
  • Cloud locker? That is all.
  • whole service sucks.... None of my playlists on my devices are synced up with eachother.  Frustrating!!
  • I have Xbox Music Pass. I use the Xbox Music app on Windows 8 to download songs. I have Zune installed too and use it to sync musics to my girlfriend's Windows Phone 7.8 device (Omnia W).   My question is: Using Windows 8 Xbox Music app only, can I sync those downloaded musics to my Windows Phone 8 (Nokia Lumia 820)? I don't like that Windows Phone app on Windows 8... and don't want to copy those songs using Windows Explorer either... Zune made it so easily for me...
  • You can't 'sync' them per se. But you can download them. I suggest you use the XBOX MUSIC APP on the phone to do so. I have cloud collection and cloud matching on my PC. Anything I download to the XM App appears on my phome, tablet, etc. And vice versa. If I want them on either I just download them directly.
  • Well... that is what I don't want to do... So I won't use it... =/   Have to download a song twice is not good at all... With Zune I downloaded a song on my phone or on my PC and then I synced them. Hope they see it...
  • I used Spotify for a while and didn't mind the $10 a month except I couldn't justify $120 a year on music. I like that XBOX music lets you save a little by buying a year pass. Luckily I got one for 50% off so I saved even more. Hopefully I can find another deal in the next year before my renewal!
  • Love it! I wish they'd fix the synching though or just make it as great as Zune!
  • What about managing the cloud collection directly on the phone? Still haven't found a way to delete things.. Does anyone know how?
  • Xbox music playlists are broken. You can make a playlist of over 100 songs, but when you hit play it will only play the first 100 tracks, cutting the playlist off after 100. This was confirmed to me by support, too. Now you know why it always seems that you're hearing the same songs in your playlist. LAME.
  • I've had Xbox Music since day one and I love it. Use it every day and its nice not having to go out and buy the CDs of the artists I listen to. I can just simply search and download if I like the album.
  • Coincidentally, I just went through this last night. For me it said "ONE device every 30 days" . It ~was~ 2 the time I'd used it before that (October 13)
  • @Daniel just one question do u need a music pass to sync ur music over the air?
  • I love Xbox music!
  • It tells me the same thing as in buying a pass to stream music from the app.
  • Apparently you can steam music from any Windows Phone without it being added to the list of devices (if your device list is full).  In that case, Windows Phones only get swapped out in the list when you download songs.  For some reason I have five devices in my list.  Is that because I have an old Zune Pass subscription, or is it because I have a WP7 device that was added through the Zune software?
  • One thing I don't like about the Xbox Music app that’s not built-in is the way you switch songs. With the built-in Xbox Music app, you swipe the picture to go to the next or previous song but with the Xbox Music app that’s not built-in, you have to press smaller buttons for next and previous. The swipe gesture makes it so much easier and convenient to switch songs while driving, running, etc. Hope they bring it back.
  • +1020
  • I wish they would bump it up to like 6 or 10. I have a desktop, laptop, windows phone, surface 2, and an iPad. I really wish that I didn't haven to sacrifice one of them...
  • XBOX MUSIC is a terrific service if you've never used Zune before or plan on using that software at all. Add a song on one device and BAM! see it on your other devices. My main negative is not being able to match all my music to the cloud. A Locker or something or other would be appreciated to have access to these songs.
  • I find the syncing a mixed bag. Adding songs on my PC show up on my phone regularly, but adding songs on my phone may never show up on my PC. The big news from this story is the ability to control swapping devices. No more calls or chat sessions with Xbox music staff needed. Great news.