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Quick tip for Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8

This post started as a quick 30 second tutorial on how to make your music experience a bit better on your new device running Windows Phone 8. However, it kind of morphed into a bit of a rant about one aspect of Xbox Music. So sit back and read my thoughts and criticisms about the cloud collection or jump to the end for a quick tip that could save your sanity and help your wallet.

The complaint

So, if you’re anything like me most of the music you listen to on a daily basis might have recently been downloaded. Which is awesome with Windows Phone, because there is a ‘new’ section when you launch the music and video hub that shows your recently downloaded/added music. It started in Windows Phone 7 and can still be found in Windows Phone 8. However, you might find an album or two that is ‘new’ but not stored locally on the phone. You see, with the Xbox Music Cloud your playlists are synced across all your different devices. Which is great for an overall experience with Xbox Music, but can be a tad annoying in the new section on Windows Phone. There are a few reasons why it’s annoying for me.

The first is that the quality of the music is dependent on your data connection. If you’re on a Wi-Fi network that shouldn’t be an issue and I’m sure I’ll read the comments below with most of you saying you’re near Wi-FI 90% of the time. That’s great, but I drive a lot and rely on my cellular connection. I’d argue the experience is broken when I click on an album expecting it to play instantly but instead need to wait while it buffers.

My second complaint is that data isn’t cheap. I don’t want to spend my monthly allotment of data on music and easily went through a bit of my plan the first week with my Lumia 920. I can see a lot of users checking their first bill and being surprised at how much data they used up. For the record, the users I referred to in that last sentence probably isn’t you. Instead its people like my mom or who may not be able to easily tell the difference between which music is stored on her phone vs. the cloud. Those of who you pay for unlimited data or are grandfathered into a plan won’t be bothered by this, but I feel for those out there who are already getting shafted by carriers.

The last annoyance with this issue was referenced in the last paragraph. There is no visual indication of whether an album is stored locally or the cloud. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing an album I just downloaded on my Windows 8 PC show up on my Windows Phone, it’s an overall great experience. There just needs to be a quick way to tell if I’m about to eat into my data plan and currently there isn’t.

The solution for Microsoft

This is a simple suggestion that I think could help alleviate all the problems I see with it right now. Adding a visual element to an album cover can show when it’s in the cloud. Here is a two second mock-up just to illustrate what I mean. The image on the right is a sample of an album that isn't on your device, but instead in your Xbox Music cloud collection. What do you think?

A proposed solution for Xbox cloud music

The solution for now

So first few days I had my Lumia 920 I was frustrated that some of the content in the new section wasn’t actually on my device. I just put up with it as a new quirk of the operating system. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. The super simple fix to get it to just show your local content: in the settings for ‘music+video’ you have an option to turn off Xbox Music cloud collection. Turn that off and you’ll only see content stored on your phone. This may be a minor annoyance, but I hope the super simple fix helps some of you. 

What other complaints or concerns do you have with the new Xbox Music service?

  • Plus you can't delete previously downloaded music with your phone, only with Windows 8
  • You can delete it, but have to do it song by song. Just like downloading "already in collection" streamed songs. You can downloaded them but only one song at a time.
  • From the list of songs, hit select, then select all, then delete. Same deal for downloading. Select all then hit download. Don't use the touch&hold context menus.
  • You can delete only songs that you uploaded manually but the one you downloaded using Xbox music pass stay in the cloud, and if you delete from your phone you still gonna see it if you have cloud option on
  • Sorry I meant you can't delete it from "Xbox music cloud" basically cloud where all your previously downloaded music is, and no you can't I've tried it still stays in your cloud until you delete it through windows 8
  • Tip for any Zune pass holders. Any music on an WP7/Zune/HD will be synced to your Xbox music cloud collection.
  • You have to specify that any music downloaded with WP7/ZuneHD using Xbox music pass aka Zune pass will be in Xbox music cloud
  • How do you delete an artist from your cloud collection using Win8/WinRT?  I've looked for a way to do this, but I can't find it.
    Update: Figured it out.  You have to delete all of that artist's albums.  Then the artist will disappear.
  • I have a xbox music subscription. I downloaded an album on wp7.5. Got my new wp8 and have settings set to not show cloud music so i don't use my data. But when i go to the album i had before my only option is to buy it because it says its in my collection. But its not on my phone Any help please?
  • As mentioned already, click on the album, then click Select, then tap the three dots and tap Select All, then hit Download. I spent days figuring that out.
  • You can also deauthorize your old phone.
  • I thought I did enough research before buying a frackin WP.....i guess not! Considering Zune was my sole reason for getting this phone and its GONE. Zune was great 14$ a month 10 free songs beautiful organization with album art instead of that retarded iTunes music symbol for every album that I saw on friends iods. I know its not the topic at hand but I really don't care. I'm posting this for readers who are debating on getting this phone because they want a good music experience. You might want to reconsider and avoid the headache. Its freakin 2013 who is working for these companies that can't pull their tea cup out of their mufflers and create a desirable experience for users. I mean what devices are they using do they not say to themselves "wow this is horrible, I gotta get back to the lab and do a better job" I understand there are a lot of moving parts and the DRM situation puts its speed bumps in the road but jeez at least get your devices and software right so that this doesn't happen. Just read half the thread and you'll get the idea. I feel sorry for loyal people who didn't get on the itunes/ipod bandwagon and gave Zune and a monthly subscription a chance that was simply a delightful experience. I mean seriously I have an Xbox gold account and o have to pay for Xbox music. MS wants us all to get on their same page but they won't get on ours? Show your respect to the people who make the decision to put our hard earned money into your pockets!! Sorry I'm not particularly commenting on your comment just warning people on the fence.
  • I agree here. One more thing I want is to just download the playlist which is in the cloud. So if I create a playlist on my windows 8 PC and it shows up on the phone just allow me to take that offline by downloading it.
    Whats worse is that Windows Phone 8 does not have any FM radio. So downloading of music is even more important. They need to fix this soon.
  • I am pissed they got rid of the FM radio, sometimes I like to listen to local radio instead of streaming over cellular...
  • I agree with you. More I think about it, the more it feels like a downgrade. Why do they want us to spend on cellular data for listening radio/music.
    Does not make any sense.
  • I haven't tried this exactly, but I would expect if you hit 1) select, 2) select all, 3) download, it would work. I'm not sure why selection wouldn't be available in playlists as it is in albums, etc.
  • There is no option to Select on playlists.  Some Views have the Select option, but no select all, and some views have select, and select all...
    Just kind of sloppy IMO.  I sincerely hope they fix this sooner than later.  I also hope that phone updates go more smoothly than they did with WP7
  • There is in the Windows Phone app for desktop (rather than the metro app:

  • I think TuneIn Radio is an excellent app for radio, you could use that alternatively as well.
  • Once they update it to work on WP8 that is. =)
  • But doesn't that use either phone or wifi bandwidth?  FM radio doesn't cost you anything but battery.
  • Seems like a lot of albums can only be purchased while I can still download others with my music pass. Led zeppelin ie.
  • That's different. Zepplin just won't license their music for "pass" systems, only purchase.
  • Yeah, that pisses me off that Zeppelin is purchase only.... But this could change in the future. Funkadelick and Pink Floyd both were not available for a while... Then the politics got straitened out "somebody got paid" now they are available.... Mister Page wants$$$$, but he deserves it..
  • Add Metallica in that purchase list too
  • im staying away from music cloud, im only going local....easier to manage. 
  • Same here. I have a feeling my experience will be really dull tho. MS pushing everyone and all features to the cloud. I hate it. :(
  • I would be ok with the cloud if it actually worked.  But nothing about it seems to work reliably.  So basically Local sync sux now that zune is gone and cloud sync sucks because you have to have Windows 8 to manage the cloud.  Lame.
  • Also, the podcast situation on XBOX Music (and even 3rd party apps) is still a hot mess.
  • Unofficial official explanation? It's on their list of things to do, but not a high enough priority to get done. True story.
  • Beggars belief! On WP7 I set the genre of my MP3 audiobooks to Podcast, dropped them into Zune and copied to phone. Only podcasts have the automatic bookmarking feature that is essential for audiobooks. Was appalled to find I couldn't do the same with WP8. Spent a couple of hours this evening working out how to get iTunes to "download" my audiobooks from my PC as podcasts so I can get them on WP8. Can't believe I need iPhone software to use my Windows Phone fully!
  • Oh, no. Don't tell me they took the Podcast genre away in wp8. That's a huge bummer. But I'm sure there must be some other way of making our audiobooks usable without having to consort with the devil (iTunes).
  • I think the issue simply is that they are not done with the new software sync features and they are still working to get many of them in and/or working fully.
  • Worst case an app could always be made now that we have native file managment, I might work on one if there's enough interest, actually.
  • Really? I haven't had any issues with subscribed podcasts downloading wirelessly to my device.
  • I'm having issues with podcasts saving their last position... Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Always worked with WP7. But then these are exactly the kind of issues I would expect with such a massive rewrite. They'll work them out.
  • I'm using the wireless subscription feature in WP8 too. But there are a few podcasts I listent too that don't show up in the Xbox music store, podcasts that I manually added in Zune.
    I refuse to download iTunes on my computer again just to manage podcasts. I was happy to delete that POS software off of my computer 2 yrs ago. If MS adds manual podcast subscription support on WP8 devices I'll be happy. I'm sure others would be happier if the WP8 sync desktop client could handle it (and was more feature robust period.)
  • Wish I could add new albums to My Collection in the cloud.
  • What I don't seem to understand is why my album art will not show along the live tile when I am not playing music. I could have sworn with my focus it did that.
  • Its because of Zune vs Xbox music. MS really dropped the ball
  • They changed the live tile graphics, it now shows text and some art but the cycling if it is slower so I've only seen it once. It does look nice when you finally see it though... here's a picture of it in action:!1102&authkey=!AKO...
  • I would like the matching to not suck (and please stop matching as the edited version). Also, playback of a cloud playlist should be smart enough to play the local version of a song when it exists.
  • I went through and fixed all of my matches manually. A pain, sure, but well worth the 2-3 hours it took.
  • I find a TON of my albums aren't match able in the cloud. Until the add cloud uploads ala Google, I'm SOL
  • Excellent if we can figure out how to get my Zune movies onto my phone. Already tried using the windows 8 app, windows 7 app and windows explorer to drag and drop. Tells me the file is not shareable???
  • I'm not 100% sure, but I remember reading that that will never be possible.
  • I'm actually surprised people are complaining about this though.  Honestly, it's one of the big reasons I wanted WP8, and I love the way this works.  Instead of having to manually search for albums before I can play them with my Zune Pass, I can quickly browse through a collection of my music to stream it.  It's great.
  • I agree with you. The proposed solution by the author is whack. I like WP because it's simple and user friendly. I agree with problems in tiered data plans but that's an issue with carriers not WP. I know which of my albums are from the cloud and which are local. If you have a physical collection of audio cds you know what you have. I have like close to a thousand audio cds. I can't list all of them off the top of my head but when talking about a specific album id know if I had it or not.
  • For the record, the NEW feature precedes Windows Phone, and is present on my Zune HD.
  • There is no way to tell the phone to download cloud music other than one at a time. They could fix this whole issue with an option to auto download cloud music just like the Xbox music app has. Also music you download on the phone with your music pass does not get added to the cloud collection. The whole music experience is a mess on WP8 which very frustrating because it was so good on 7. It was actually what made me want Windows Phone in the 1st place and now it is totally broken.
  • OH yes I do NOT like that. I downloaded a few songs on my phone and noticed they were NOT available on my notebook. So I sync them only to find out they won't play on my computer because of DRM doesn't match. This is all xbox music win8 WP8 too.Then decided oh, I'll download to my notebook then sync to the phone....but then they won't play there either!! It's like the xbox music on the phone is totally different then the xbox music on my notebook. Although if I do add to my music on my notebook, they at least show up to stream on my phone which then I can download on the phone.
    Zune worked so much better, I could download either on my notebook or my phone and they would auto sync when I connected -- bam done no hassle finished on to bigger and brighter things. Now, ugh! I just don't bother downloading on either and just listen to the radio in the car now or iheartradio at work. If it is not fixed or something better happens, I'm just going with the no xbox music pass!
  • You can download them more than one at a time; Click on the album, click select, tap three dots, select all, download.
  • Hey guys, I'd like to add a cool tip that Joe B tweeted to me last night. 
    You can tell if your #WP8 music is in the cloud or on phone (or SD card!). Go to SONGS pivot and touch the item that says "all".
    Doesn't solve the issue I have above with the 'new' section of the music + video app, but might be helpful nonetheless.   
  • It'd be nice if it worked on mac OSX. With Spotify missing I would probably switch if I could use it on my computer.
  • Oh, and two other things:
    1. With the Zune PC software, they had an icon of your Zune device next to a song if it was on your device. They could follow that formula here, with tracks (or albums) that are on your device to show a device icon. You could ALSO have an icon for tracks in your collection that aren't on your device (a little cloud, I guess).
    2. As someone who greatly enjoys Muse, The Second Law was garbage. I even liked the older stuff like "Micro Cuts" and "Citizen Erased," which are grating to others. That new album, though, is just a mess that should never have happened.
  • Yeah, I was a fan of the latest album from them. It was just the first album that popped into my mind when selecting an image to demonstrate my idea. 
  • I assume that was a typo, and that you meant "was not a fan." I honestly put it on my Zune, listened to it on the way to class, and took it off of my PC as soon as I got home. It was that bad, in my opinion, haha.
  • I feel the same way. First three albums are incredible, forth is pretty good, fifth is okay, sixth is a joke.
  • Also I wish podcast art showed up on the music live tile since that's what I mostly use it for.
  • Yes please! Seems really obvious.
  • The new desktop synch process is pure poop. I wish they would bring back the Zune desktop client and rename it Xbox....or add "synch with phone" to the Windows8 Xbox Music/Video/Pictures Apps
  • I heard you can synch in a more organized manner through windows media player.
  • You can't use WMP if you have a music pass with DRM downloads.
  • You're commenting the wrong article
  • Agreed
  • I added 2 albums to the cloud over the music app on my win8 pc, I can stream them on my surface, but on my lumia920 they didnt show up. Its so frustrating. Could someone please help me? I turned on and of music cloud on my phone, but didnt helped :(
  • I have the same problem with my phone.  My songs are matched in thet cloud bu nothing shows up on my phone.  I don't have a XBox Music pass but I don't think that's it either.
  • Anybody know if you can stream music on WP8 using the free music streaming feature of Xbox music? To be clear... I'm talking about doing this and not having a Zune/Xbox Music Pass.
  • My understanding the free streaming is just on the PC and RT.
  • Thought as much.
  • Or someone can just look at the ((•)) that shows up when streaming like it did since forever. Can't be that hard.
  • Yep, good call.  You posted it as I was collecting screenshots for my post.  Beat me by 4 mins!
  • The issue I'm talking about is specifically in the "new" section of the music and video hub. I'm not interested in finding out after I select an album that it's buffering. It would be nice to know before clicking it that it isn't stored locally.
  • It is possible to tell if content is stored locally, or will be streamed.  Unfortunately, it only shows up on the song list, rather than album list. 
    Compare these two screenshots.  The first screenshot has a list of Song Title, with Artist underneath.  The second screenshot has Song Title, then a (-) icon in front of the artist name underneath.  From what I gather, these are songs that will be streamed.  This same (-) logo is used in the Now Playing view as well.
  • My beef is that it isn't consistent with Surface.  I told Surface to stay in sync via the cloud and all by it's lonesome it went and grabbed all of my music. Genius. So assuming I am on WiFi, why on earth does WP8 not do the same? Why do I have to perform this operation manually? That's just silly.
  • And not just manually but manually for every single song one by one.
  • select all is your friend.
  • Unless I'm missing something, select all is only an option in album view?
  • Where is this magical select all option?
  • Hey, Daniel or Sam can you answer this. Is it possible to add music to your cloud collection from the phone. I only see download? I know you can from the PC but that is dumb if it is the only way. Thanks!
  • Please LORD Microsoft, please add cloud uploads and metadata editing. I have over 200 film scores and have 50% matches in the cloud. Plus all the metadata that was editable and thus fixable in Zune is wrong and uneditable in Xbox Music. I'll give it until mid 2013 but if there aren't improvements I'm out.
  • And you can't just use windows explorer or windows media player
  • Nope, that's never worked for me with WP7. I used to change stuff in the properties, but none of that would show in Zune or my phone, its only with Zune that I edit stuff. I'm not gonna lie, but this whole sync client crap is the only thing stopping me from buying a 920 right now. Accommodate WP8 in Zune
  • You can use WMP to sync WP8
  • I'd like to see a "WiFi Only" check box under the Xbox Music Cloud Collection switch, that way you can stream your music when on WiFi and deal with local storage when away from a wireless connection. Beats having to go back and forth into settings to make sure you don't accidentally use up a good chunk of data. 
  • I have one complaint and its minor. On 7.5 when you paused your music and did something else the live tile would show the artist artwork. Its seems they've done away with this feature in 8.
  • ^this. That tile throws off my whole scheme on my phone. I almost don't want it there anymore. Lol.
  •  Xbox music is a mess..
  • Agreed, I understand there is a transition phase but they've done nothing to help that transition. I have nothing but problems now between my W7, W8, WP7 and Surface when it comes to music.
  • You're commenting the wrong article
  • No, you are...
  • Really? Looks right on my Windows Phone...oh wait, need to update the app.
  • One issue I have is that alot of the album art is not working with a blank black tile. It wasn't like that on my L900. Kind of annoyed right now. Also artist with "The" ... Show up as two separate artist one with "The" the other without The. In Zune, I could drag to either and have that artist show up as only one artist. I also get "Unable to confirm usage right for this artist" alot
  • There's an icon next to each song title that will be played from the cloud. If the song is on your phone locally, the icon isn't there.
  • I understand that, the issue is with the the "homepage" of the music + video hub. Specifically the new section. When you're glancing at albums, you can't tell.
  • Do I need to have a music pass to sync my locally stored music on my W8 machine to my 920?
  • No you don't. 
  • I also don't see my local music from my W8 PC show up on my 920 so maybe something is up or some dumb setting with my MS account?
    Of course I could just do a local sync and place all my music on my phone but I think that is a waste of space and second I want to see this work the right way.
  • If you're using a Lumia, one solution would be to use Nokia Music when you only want to play music on your phone. Xbox Cloud music won't show up there.
  • MS wants Xbox music to be consistent on all windows devices. Music I added on my surface won't show up on my 920 even with the cloud option on. I added 46 streamed songs on my surface but only 4 showed up on my Nokia. I haven't even checked on my 360.
  • I have nothing on the 360.
  • I just don't understand why they threw away Zune when it was already so good.
  • They didn't throw it away, it's just rebranded.
  • This is a whole new program...
  • Zune was OK, not great. Im hoping Xbox Music will go beyong what Zune was.
  • I thought it was pretty darn good, especially considering the lack of updates. There are some things it was missing. I just think it would have been smart to build off of Zune instead of completely starting over.
  • Not re branded. This is not Zune. Only remnants of Zune are the subscription music pass elements.
  • I love zune...... There shud be search option in music..... :)
  • Here Here! (and I'm not even British). Your solution also works for individual songs, which is also important.
  • My problem with Music+Video is with my own mp3s. I have each studio album from Silversun Pickups on my device. When I play any of their tracks, I don't get their picture as a background on the tile or the app itself. When I search the Store, it says I don't have any of their albums in my collection, but they're sorted as "Silversun Pickups"! How do I get them to show up?
  • I want access to get the metadata fixed too. Nothing works not even in other MS programs.
  • There's this symbol thing next to all songs that aren't physically downloaded into the device... (((•)))
    This will let you know that you are streaming... =D
  • Again, it's the hub view they're talking about....
  • I cannot figure out how to delete a play list from the cloud. If I press and hold and then delete on the phone nothing happens. I have 40 playlists up in the cloud with no songs in them. I even went to the folder on my desktop and deleted the play lists and they are still showing up in the cloud. Thankfully only six of playlists are on the phone when I turn off the cloud music.
  • If it's any token...ATT told me today that 1 hour of streaming normally equates to about 30mb of data usage. I dunno how accurate that is but the math works out to about 30 hours of streaming per gigabyte. And if you have that 3 GB plan, that means you could have 90 hrs of streaming per month or 20 hours per week.
  • Hmmm I wonder at what quality that was.
  • Not sure, I also don't know which service, OS, phone, or bandwidth that applies to. I think it's a blanket metric they supply customers with to help them choose a data plan. I fear it is doubtful that ATT rounds their figures in the customers' favor, though...
  • My real life streaming is more like 20mb for an hour. Have yet to see 30mb.
  • It would probably safer to estimate that one hour of streaming actually equates to like 50 MB of data usage.
  • I shouldn't have to guess my data usage. 
  • It's still kinda nice to know...aside from just monitoring as you go. I don't really see a need to have files local if really is that hard to use 3gb of data.
  • That cloud image is pretty great...which leads me to a general question. Why doesn't Microsoft hire real-world users to help make WP better? It seems as though the regular employees are so inside the box that maybe they can see some of the problems.
  • Good gosh this is a nightmare..... I'm to the point I will just use Zune then import.... How the heck do i create a smart DJ "playlist" then download it to win 8 then sync it to my phone ? Is that too much to ask? I don't wanna stream on my phone over the air! Frack!!
  • Save as playlist....duh
  • Why even have music pass?
  • I guess I'm gunna have to make myself more playlists so that I don't waste my data. Luckily I already have a playlist for my music currently on my phone(which is what I listen to 90% of the time anyways) I'd like to know if they've fixed the artist info for non cd's. I have a few live albums/tracks of bands that I listen to that were never "officially released", but, when they are playing, the artist info won't show up since it's not part of their database.(so I get a colorful background instead of a band picture) Even though I've manually tagged those songs as a particular band. it's not really a problem, but its something that does bother me.
  • How do you do that? It keeps showing me duplicate copies of my songs.. One locally, then one with the cloud logo. I don't want anything to do with this cloud fiasco.
  • So don't sync any songs you have that's in the cloud, problem solved.
  • I had the same problem. Make sure the songs ae matched on your Windows 8 PC, and then delete all the songs off your Windows Phone 8 device. 
    Before resyncing them, turn off XBox Cloud Collection. Resync the songs, and turn of XBox Cloud. If all works well, it should reconize them locally and not show the cloud collection. Had the same problem, only had two or three albums where it would still show both. 
    Hopefully this is a bug that can be quickly fixed! -Best of luck
  • So, why do i have the same music downloaded to xbox music in purchases folder as I do in my music folder of bought music from my old zune player, Its confusing as hell? Does the app just automatically redownload your zune content from the new xbox music store? please help me understand...
  • I'm pretty tech savy and had no problem with setting up my music library with the Zune, all the while keeping the metaata nice and everything organized. This changed has been a disaster and I don't know what I'm doing wrong, why I show some songs as local, others as local and cloud, and others as local and stream only. I'm trying to set it up for everything to work nicely with my PC, Phone, and Surface. I'd rather everything to just be played straight from their local memory, while hopefully keeping them all synced identical to each other. Is there a manual or tutorial somewhere as how to set this up? As hard as this all is for everyone, I can't believe they haven't posted an online manual for everyone.
  • I never used the cloud for music on my HTC Arrive and don't plan on doing it with my L920.  Wat concerns me though is streaming music or downloading songs on the fly like I did when I was on Sprint.  Only a couple days on AT&T and I can feel the Grey, stormy Data cloud over my head.  I'm on the 5GB plan so I should be good.  On Sprtin I averaged 2-3GB a month.  Just want to take it easy on AT&T for the first month though.
  • I've created a playlist with a number of songs from different bands, how do I get that playlist to sync offline? My single biggest complaint about xbox music and a deal breaker for me. My second biggest complaint was what you said in this article, thanks for clearing this up!