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Microsoft to monetise free Xbox Music streaming by serving TargetSpot audio ads

Do you enjoy the free streaming with Xbox Music? You'll soon have to put up with audio advertisements.

Microsoft is brining in TargetSpot, a New York City-based digital audio advertising network, to deliver in-stream advertisements on its Xbox Music service. Available on the Xbox 360 console, Windows RT / 8 installations and Windows Phones, the cloud service will sport advertisements on the free stream only. It makes sense for Microsoft to look at ways to monetise users who don't contribute to the pool through the optional subscription.

The free streaming side of Xbox Music is available in 15 countries and TargetSpot plans to provide a "comprehensive monetisation solution" for Microsoft's music content. Much like services such as Spotify, those who wish to listen to music without interruptions will have to upgrade to the premium subscription. The company already restricts free streaming to 10 hours per month after the first 6 months of usage.

The paid subscription sets the consumer back by $9.99 per month (or $99.99 per year) for the Xbox Music Pass, but a one-month free trial offer is available for potential subscribers to try out the added benefits of paying the small monthly fee. The service is fairly comprehensive, and for $9.99 a month consumers can enjoy unlimited streaming, downloading tracks for offline playback and more - though it's worth noting that a maximum of 5 devices are allowed.

The advertisements that will be served will supposedly be highly targeted and relevant, though this is yet to be heard. In a statement, TargetSpot states the network now spans more than 85 radio groups and pure-play online providers. This includes the likes of AOL Radio,, Grooveshark, Myspace Music and more.

The Windows Phone community has a mixed view of the Xbox Music service, with many arguing the service doesn't cater for all their music needs since Zune was shut down. We've had numerous comments on our previous Xbox Music coverage screaming for updates and improvements to be applied. With this extra flow of funding, perhaps we'll also see some more major refreshes down the line?

Source: The Next Web

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is 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 over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Why not? I think we are getting too used to getting things for free these days.
  • I concur. Want something of quality, pay for it.
  • I can't describe Xbox music in its current form as 'Quality'
  • Yes you can - "poor quality" :)
  • Makes sense, I still have the old $14.99 subscription that includes owning 10 songs a month
  • For free subscribers is there a benefit to using one over the other? XBox Music, Nokia Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Pandora
    If I understand correctly, XBox Music allows you to chose and play a specific song?
     Maybe a write up is on the way...or has already been done?
  • I second this question. 
  • You can only stream as a free user you can't download for offline listening.
  • What makes me prefer paying for Xbox Music over any of the "free" radios is exactly that. If I randomly think of a song, I can just go and download it. Instead of hearing songs that "sound like it."
  • Yeah, XBox Music's advantage is being able to play a specific song.  You can even add the song to your library and stream it if you'd like.
    It's similar to Spotify in this regard.
    An advantage of XBox Music over Spotify is that you can buy songs through it, too.  So if there's a song you like and want to be able to put it on your phone or burn it or whatever, you can buy it through the service and get the MP3.
  • ^The one caveat I have found with the downloading songs from Xbox Music is they do seem to still be DRM files. So while I have a CD of some music at home, I can burn it and put that music on any device I want however many times. But with the XBox Music purchased files, they still seem to be dependent on DRM and will throw errors with extra devices, or connectivity issues. At least thats been my experience.
  • If its an MP3 then DRM shouldn't be an issue at all. Never had problems working with songs I'd bought. The wma files though are a pain in the butt.
  • On windows 8, I use Xbox Music on the Metro side and Zune on the desktop side. All is good here in subscription land.
  • Are you sure you're not trying to RIP songs downloaded thru XBOX MUSIC subscription? Cause if you are, you can't do that as they're rights protected. You can only RIP music from songs you own, songs paid for apart from the 9.99 a month subscription.
  • Only Xbox Music Pass songs are DRM'd. All purchased tracks are DRM-free MP3.
  • Once they add ads they should increase the 10 hour limit. Assuming the ads are profitable for them it makes sense to get more ads to more people. (Not that I really care since I have a subscription.)
  • Nokia Music looking even better day by day...
  • Who's jamming to SDRE? Such a great band. 
  • Agreed times a thousand.
  • It must not be free at all in Canada as I can only stream 30 seconds of songs. We get left out of everything, even though we are America's hat.
  • I don't get free streaming either and I'm in the US...unless I just don't understand how to get free streaming.
  • Perhaps someone could shed some light on this. I would imagine that I'd anyone got free streaming it would be those in the US. Anyone here free stream via XBM and know what needs to be done to set that up?
  • Are you using Windows 8? All windows phone related features require a subscription.
  • In the uk i get free streaming with an add on windows 8, but Xbox music on the phone and console is 30 seconds only. Who's getting free streaming and how?
  • Yeah, as far as I know, it comes with WINDOWS 8 and will only be available for the first 6 months last time I checked. Maybe they're trying to give people a free service, paid for by ads beyond that timeframe.
  • +1 Im pretty sure there is no free WP streaming, cause I certainly dont get it (US). I have 30 sec clips.
  • I've said this before, but XBM doing streaming is all very well, but at the moment, they've done this at the expense of the users who want to use music they already own. As the article says, many people want them to develop updates to rectify this. This should be #1 priority, as a growing number are annoyed enough to leave the platform altogether.
    Also, aren't some people already complaining that they are receiving ads through the service, again within the songs they already own?
  • I'm confused..Windows Phone does not get free streaming at all currently from Xbox Music like Windows 8 /RT. Is this now coming to Windows Phone, but with ads?
  • I have the subscription since it debuted, it made me realize that I don't need the extra storage (microSSD) which I craved so much. I'm *always* listening to music, and Xbox Music was the best thing that happened to me regarding that very important aspect of my life. Also it has virtually anything I look for, even Tulipa Ruiz.
  • If I didn't have a data cap, I'd agree. Then again, Xbox music on wp8 sucks compared to Zune music on wp7. I miss things just working like they should.
  • This /\
  • I've learned to use it. Change always sucks. But I think MS is on to something. I use XBOX MUSIC on my PC to create Playlists of songs I like and they instantly appear on My Phone and XBOX. If I have a song and MS has it, I can access it and download it thru my phone. Of course, out of the 3000 or so that I have only about 1700 are in the cloud which is still a lot. It is out of these 1700 that I create my Playslists so I can access them on all devices. It takes some getting use to, but I think I got it. I'm ok with the way it is, but It would definitely be better for most people if you could use it to sync a la Zune.
  • I suppose I should mention I'm on Vista. The Xbox music app isn't available to me, so I'm stuck with drag-and-drop, which kinda sucks. I should really organize my pc's music file system someday!
  • What free streaming on Xbox 360?? I've never found that??
  • Monetize XBOX Music by making it not suck! They really, really need to fix it....
  • And this/\
  • Generally I find the selection of music on there to be more than sufficient, and there's already ads on the service, which I don't mind. To be honest I'm all for this coming in as soon as possible, I'm totally sick of hearing about Macklemore and his shitty album.
    For those asking, there is no free streaming on Xbox or Windows Phone. You can stream music on those devices as a "free" bonus for subscribing. However, if you buy an album on the service, you do get free access to a streaming version on any of your devices, regardless of whether you're subscribed or not.
  • I asked to get another 1-month subsciption with WP Support after my DRM issues after switching from Zune. They wont give it to me. I don't get it, I thought Zune and Xbox Music were two seperate services anyway. I'll stick to the free streaming for now. 
  • Never heard about this free streaming, but that "only available in 15 countries" explaines that...
    And has that Xbox Music really had "real" offline playing? Cause few months back, I was trying that one month trial on boat trip and it needed internet connection to...I guess to verify those offline songs... Forgot to connect to boats WiFi.
  • Zune did that too. It checks perodically for the "key" that unlocks your songs. 
  • Ok, thanks.
  • ^That's what annoys me. If I buy a song from XBox Music, it shouldn't need verified anymore as I "own" the song. One of the reasons to buy the song is so that I can play it offline, but if has to do "key" checks to verify that file, what good is it? Especially if it then follows the XBM limited device number policy. I love XBM for streaming (paid) but the purchasing thing worries me. I feel like I'm not actually purchasing the music, just "leasing" it. If I spend the extra money to buy it, I want to OWN it.
  • Well with the xbox music pass you are just leasing it. Do you think oy can get it for one month and "Buy" all the music and have it for the rest of your live? Its different with the music you buy without the pass
  • I've already been hearing commercials when I use Xbox music streaming. So... (And the weird thing is that I was only playing music from my library...)
  • I enjoyed my free month back then, even if I could only use it on my Xbox and Windows 8. I'd like to have an Xbox Music subscription but I don't know how I'd explain it to myself. I'm not that much of a music addict.
  • The main advantage for us is the integration of WP ecosystem. Like I am at a store and hear a song, launch Bing Music to find song, download it to phone and can get it on my laptop when I get home
  • It sounds like we've gone full circle.  We might as well go back to FM radio, which I have on my WP7.8 by the way...  You WP8 suckers have to wait for GDR2, hahahahahaha....
  • Hate ads
  • Xbox music already has advertisements. The Macklemore and Ryan Leawis video/audio interruptions.
  • I have realized something on that XBOX MUSIC software though and that is...anything that I download thru it can only be played by XBOX MUSIC. I tried playing songs that I knew I had downloaded thru that software on Windows Media Player and Zune but couldn't. It always asked me to check my rights and to play it through the XBOX MUSIC first and then I would be able to play it on Zune or WMP. I did that, but it never worked.That's why I still download ALL MY SONGS thru the ZUNE SOFTWARE. This way I can transfer them to my ZUNE HD or my Sony MP3 player with no issues.
  • That's kinda scary and a part of the reason why I'm worried that ms will abandon the zune software at some point. We still need the Zune software desperately!
  • I agree 100% dude. I'm still on that 14.99 plan but I feel MS is trying to get rid of us, cause you can't get those 10 free songs from XBOX MUSIC either.
  • They ended that $14.99 plan a while ago and replaced it with the $9.99, dropping the 10 credits incentive, and included music videos. They allowed grandfather so as long as your subscription never lapses, you can continue to use the plan, as well as getting access to the music videos. This was well before Xbox Music was a thing. Of course they are trying to get rid of you $14.99ers, it's no longer a plan they offer, but to keep existing customers happy, they're letting you keep it. I think i read somewhere they might be discontinuing it completely soon.
  • Yeah but the thing we're going on about is the fact that I'm grandfathered in to the 10 songs plan but for whatever reason my monthly payment has switched to $10. I still get my 10 songs, though. Crazy, right? But where did you read they might discontinue it soon?
  • Im not sure about wp8 but wp7 doesn't get free music in the first place. All I get are 30sec previews of songs. I would love to have advertising as long as I get to stream any song I want to listen to for free, like on my windows 8 tablet.
  • Free music streaming is Windows 8/RT only.
  • There's no such thing as a free lunch and the monetization of the Xbox music streaming service was inevitable. Might not be such a bad deal for those who can stomach the ads but I prefer my music ad free, the old fashioned way...CDs copied on to the hard drive.
  • Its not really free, I had Xbox live for a whole year and when they rolled out Xbox music it still ended up costing, so im assuming this is a new move to make it free? So its not going to cost $100 a yr to use it?
  • I use the Xbox music pass and I still have the 10 free credits a month.. I bet many users will love this feature..
  • I'm also on that plan. Awesome, right? :) But what's weird is that my last charge from MS was only $10. I thought we were still paying 15 for our legacy plans, or did I miss something?
  • Hmm.. I haven't checked my charges but last time I remember my plan was still 14.99. Unless they've changed it.. All I know is that I'll keep this plan for as long as I can.. I always use all my credits.
  • I forget my credits more often than i'd like... But I can see a point on the horizon where I don't really have any more music I want to buy. At that point I'd probably switch to the cheaper plan... But wait, I just checked my bank statement-- $9.99 last month and $9.99 three months prior to that. Cool, I'll just stick with it then!
  • I used to forget about my credits too but now when I see the "purchase available" when I click on a song, I immediately hit it to see how many credits I have available.. I hope they dropped mine to $9.99 as well.. I'll have to check my account tomorrow..
  • Make it free on the phone
  • I'll just come out and say it. xbox music sucks. dont get me started on the RT version. a simple rebranding of zune and upgrade to the whole new UI would have been the correct decision. I recently went back to my iphone and believe me when I say that using iTunes compared to Xbox Music is way better. No one could honestly say that when they used the zune software.
  • I could be wrong but this article is a little misleading/incorrect. As far as I'm aware, Xbox Music on Windows 8 and Windows RT allows you to stream music for free by either choosing an artist or using smart dj (which could be limited to the 15 countires, I don't know). There's no free streaming on Xbox or Windows Phone (I'm fairly certain that's the same everywhere but I'm in Australia and it's like that over here).
    Secondly there already is ads in this free streaming, I think every 15 mintues you get some lame ad about xbox music so that's why I think the part in the article which says "Do you enjoy the free streaming with Xbox Music? You'll soon have to put up with audio advertisements" is misleading cause we already do put up with adverts. 
    I'd like this article to clarify if this free streaming with the new ads will now come to Xbox and Windows Phone. That would be then be awesome. In the mean time I'm using Nokia Music and Pandora for my free music on Windows Phone. I find Nokia's mixes though usually contain better choices.
  • I don't understand why they cant do the same for xbox
  • Answer is spotify. Case closed !