I’ve been with Xbox Music since the original Zune, and this month I decided to cancel Xbox Music subscription in favor of Spotify Premium. I’ve had good and bad times with Xbox Music/Zune, but Spotify suits my purposes better, so therefore I am pledging my $9.99 a month to Spotify.
In December – around the holidays – I received a friendly email from Paypal. The email enticed me with an offer I couldn’t resist. Three months of Spotify Premium for the low, low price of $3. Paypal/Spotify’s advertising gurus carefully crafted a deal too sweet for me to pass on. I said, “What the Hell? Spotify has a Windows Phone app. Let’s see what all the buzz is about.”
I’ve heard friends praise Spotify over and over, but had no idea that it was any different than Xbox Music. As a Microsoft loyalist, I had probably downloaded Spotify once, but never really used it.
The Zune Days
I remember Zune. I loved my Zune and most of all the Zune software. For $15 a month, one could procure unlimited DRMed music plus 10 songs DRM free a month — this is how I got most of the music I own. The Zune (like an iPod) was great and the software was even better. It featured album and playlist management, looked fresh, and had it’s own built-in social network for sharing favorite songs and playlists.
Switching to Xbox Music
Switching from Zune to Xbox Music was a natural choice when the Zune brand died in 2011. I continued to use Zune until Xbox Music launched in late 2012. After a few months of using both the Xbox Music software and the Zune software, I decided to cancel my grandfathered $15 a month plan so that I could delete the Zune software and only run the Xbox Music software. This seemed like a simple process, but I ended up spending about 2 hours on the phone with Microsoft and went a few days without access to either.
I have always had issues with Xbox Music on both PCs and the Windows Phone. The Windows Phone app has improved tremendously, but at times it was completely unusable. Many of the issues I have stem from my library. It seems that Xbox Music gets rid of albums and puts different versions of the albums on their servers all the time. Because of this, many of my songs and playlists have been screwed up or gone missing. One album I had deleted all the explicit versions of songs and replaced them with the censored versions, which pissed me off. Many times Xbox Music has doubled albums and songs in my collection.
On top of all this, Xbox Music will not run on all of the hardware that I have. It will run on my Windows 8 PC, Windows Phone, iPhone, Xbox, and my Surface 2, but will not run on my Mac nor my work computer — Windows 7. I could run the web version, but would like to download songs onto these devices.
Spotify will work on all of the devices I need it on — it will not work on my Xbox nor my Surface 2, but I almost never use it on my Xbox and the Surface ARM line was just discontinued, so I’m not too concerned with this. I love love love the social playlists. They remind me somewhat of Zune’s features. Beyond this, there are so many features of Spotify that I just find better than Xbox Music.
You can reorder your playlists on Spotify! On Xbox Music, your playlists are trapped in whatever order Xbox decides will be best and this irks me. I would like to reorder my playlists on a whim. This feature is so basic, and yet was overlooked.
Library management is better. I tried to export all my playlists from Xbox Music, however Xbox Music has neglected to add this feature. Instead, I was stuck re-creating all my playlists manually. Frustrated, I did it, because I know you can export the playlists from Spotify.
Social features exist. This makes me giddy inside. I love websites like Songza with curated playlists, and Spotify does this well. Xbox Music also lacks this feature.
A fully-featured mobile app. Xbox Music’s app, even for Windows Phone, was lackluster at best. I love Spotify on Windows Phone. To be fair, the Xbox Music team has made huge leaps in the last few months, but Spotify is still a few steps ahead.
Desktop apps for all platforms. Spotify runs on Windows XP and later and OSX 10.6 and later. Xbox Music runs on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, and that’s it. I’m not a huge fan of Windows-8-style full-screen apps (Windows 10 will fix this); Spotify is a normal-looking desktop app.
Explicit songs. I feel like artists should be able to express themselves with whatever words they want to use. When I listen to an artist’s music, I would like to hear the song the way the artist intended it to be heard rather than the version that adheres to radio standards. Xbox Music does a poor job at marking which versions of albums are explicit and most of the time I would have to listen to the album to figure it out. Spotify has explicit tags clearly listed next to song and album titles.
Every gem has it’s flaws, and Spotify has a few problems that I must address to be fair.
No local-music-sync for Windows Phone. On Android and iPhone, one can sync their local tracks to Spotify over wifi, but this feature has not been added to Windows Phone yet. I have a few songs that Spotify does not have in their library that I would like to sync to my phone but can’t. I’m hoping they will add this in a future update.
Some tracks missing Some of my tracks were missing when I was moving my playlists over from Xbox Music to Spotify, but I also noticed that they had some songs I was missing from my Xbox Music library, so I guess this is a wash. The tracks are listed below.
Tracks missing from Spotify:
Default — Atoms for Peace
Skyfall Theme — Adele
Tracks Spotify has that Xbox Music doesn’t:
The Hop — Radio Citizen
Overall, for my money, I’m switching to Spotify Premium. Last week’s Windows 10 announcements brought some exciting news for Xbox Music, but I’m waiting for the results. When I can see and touch the new Xbox Music software, I may go back, but Microsoft is currently miles behind Spotify.