Gracenote today announced an agreement with Microsoft to provide their music recognition technology to Xbox Music Pass subscribers. Among other features, MusicID will be used to identify music owned by subscribers and make those songs available at no additional charge for streaming across devices. It's a strong reminder that Xbox Music extends beyond the Xbox console but, when one looks at the details of Xbox Music Pass pricing, it's also a reminder that it may be a more competitive service when not connected to the Xbox.
According to the announcement:
"With an Xbox Music Pass, the Gracenote-powered feature will let Xbox Music users identify albums and tracks they already own, unlock them in the cloud and stream them for free across Windows 8, Windows RT tablets and PCs as well as Windows Phone 8 smart phones, iOS & Android phones and the Xbox 360® and Xbox One entertainment systems."
"Xbox Music subscribers will be able to unlock digital music files in the cloud regardless whether albums and songs were purchased from other services or ripped from CDs. This nearly eliminates the need for music fans to spend time manually rebuilding their entire collection."
This feature alone is a powerful addition to Xbox Music. Gracenote also powers iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Player. Typically the songs are limited to what is in the music service's collection so you might have an obscure song that they don't.
Since you'd already have access to that music from the streaming service, this feature is, in some respects, simply a way to turn your music collection into a playlist to make it accessible via streaming across devices. However that is a significant tool to gather together the pieces of your music world and one which is becoming a must have feature for a complete music service.
"Subscribers can tap into Gracenote’s vast collection of music metadata to drive data-driven music recommendations, edit song and genre information, manage collections and fill-in missing album cover art."
On the face of it this would make Xbox Music an even stronger contender in the world of music services given that it is not only available for Xbox but for a variety of other devices from mobile to desktop. Gracenote's tech, particularly Scan & Match, facilitates music access wherever one goes.
In fact, given that Xbox Music Pass also allows for no additional charge downloading for offline listening on all devices except for Xbox consoles, Xbox Music Pass starts to look like a better deal without the console.
Of course, it's most likely that Xbox users will get Live Gold memberships not for the music service but for the complete package of capabilities and so will also have the choice of adding Xbox Music Pass which gives it an edge beyond direct feature matching competition with other major players.
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.