As I’ve been saying for years, I’ve always been a big fan of Microsoft ZunePass. This is a program that let’s you download and stream unlimited music, so long as you keep your subscription active. However, you also get 10 free song credits every month. By the way, I’ve been grand-fathered into the replacement XBox Music service, so I still get to keep this 10 song feature!
Why this is so much better than iTunes or any other option, is that ZunePass works entirely in MP3. When you “buy” a song, you actually get a DRM-free, MP3 to do with what you please. With iTunes for example, this is not the case.
ANYhow, now that ZunePass has been retired, XBox Music took it’s place, then on Windows 8, there is an XBox Music app, and on Windows Phone, there is an XBox Music app – how does it all fit together?
Well, first – I needed space. So, I bought a 64GB micro-SD for my new Lumia 1520, so now I have tons of space!!
Next, let me tell what I tried – and what didn’t work, then I’ll explain what does work.
What Doesn’t Work:
If you use the regular Zune software in Windows, it does not recognize a Windows Phone 8. This is apparently by-design and there are no workarounds I could find.
If you launch the XBox Music “app” in Windows 8/8.1, there is no option for it to connect to your device.
If you launch the Windows Phone “app” in Windows 8/8.1, you could potentially add music that way, but you are just adding files. There is no way to manage playlists or anything like that.
What Does Work:
Since I am a paying ZunePass customer, I contact Microsoft (via chat) and asked: how is this all supposed to work together?
The answer was surprisingly simple, and the result is amazing! In Windows Phone, by default, you might be using an app called “Music + Videos”. That isn’t what you want to use. Go into the Marketplace and install “Xbox Music” and use that, instead.
Now, if you log into XBox Music on your PC as your Live ID – and log into your Windows Phone as your Live ID, they sync up! So, I added songs and playlist on my Windows PC, and they automatically synced on my Windows Phone!! I am very impressed – and very pleased with this!
One thing left… What about my old Zune content?
There is one downside to this. If you had playlists or Zune DRM content in the Zune app, that is not backwards compatible, because those are two different licensing systems.
So, from what I gather, you have to recreate any of that. However, once you transition to the XBox Music system, then everything just magically stays in-sync, via the cloud.
So, what does all of this buy me?
For me, I am a big music lover. Now, I can take every song I own with me, on my phone. At home, I can create and manage playlists in the Xbox Music app on my PC, and it syncs with phone. When I am in the truck, my Ford Sync can do streaming over bluetooth – so I have access to all of my music via my car audio system too. Best-of-all, everything is synced in the cloud so if my phone gets lost or stolen, all of the same content would get re-downloaded to any new phone I get!
So for me, this is a very nice, tidy solution to music management!