Get grooving to over 38 million songs with Microsoft's music streaming service.
What is Groove Music?
Groove Music, also known as Microsoft Groove, is a soon-to-be-defunct subscription-based music streaming service operated by Microsoft. As announced in October 2017, Microsoft plans on discontinuing support for the service by the end of year, instead turning to industry heavyweight Spotify to provide music-streaming services on Microsoft products.
Like its main competitors Spotify and Apple Music, Groove Music provided subscribers with instant access to millions of songs they could stream to their phones, tablets or PCs over the Internet. Additionally, Groove Music supported purchasing songs and albums outright through the Windows Store; fortunately, any songs you purchased while Groove Music was in operation will be yours to keep even after the service is discontinued.
The lineage of Groove Music can be traced back to Microsoft's ill-fated Zune-branded music devices from the mid- to late-2000s. Then known as Zune Music Pass, the streaming service was hamstrung by its slight 11-million-song library and its limited device support. In October 2012, Microsoft rebranded the service as Xbox Music and fleshed out its library to a respectable 30 million songs. Finally, in July 2015, the service underwent a second rebranding as Groove Music to emphasise that it wasn't exclusive to the Xbox platform.
What features did Groove Music support?
Groove Music offered a number of extra features to complement its music streaming. All were exclusive to Groove Music Pass subscribers, with the sole exception of uploading and playing your own music which anyone with a Microsoft Account could take advantage of. This upload feature is the one component of Groove Music Microsoft will continue to support beyond the end of 2017.
Unlike Spotify, Groove Music did not offer a free, ad-supported subscription tier for its Groove Music Pass service. On the plus side, this meant the service was completely ad-free, so you could stream all the music you wanted without any annoying interruptions.
With a Groove Music Pass subscription, you didn't have to be online 24/7 to listen to your music. Any song, album or playlist from the Groove Music library as well as any music you'd purchased from the Windows Store could be downloaded through the Groove Music app to compatible devices and listened to anytime and anywhere, even if you didn't have an active Internet connection. You could download music to a maximum of 10 different devices at once, but you'd need to connect to the Internet at least once every 30 days on each device in order to keep listening offline. This was a security measure to ensure your Groove Music Pass subscription was still active.
Neither the Xbox 360 nor the Xbox One ever supported offline play.
Playlists are a crucial component of any music service, and Groove Music didn't disappoint in this regard. Not only could you build custom playlists of your favourite dance beats or your perfect mix of adrenaline-pumping rock tracks, you could discover a whole range of new music by queuing up one of Groove Music's many curated playlists. These playlists covered a variety of different genres, moods and activities, and were tailored to your personal tastes based on the music you liked to listen to.
Personalised radio stations
Following on from the curated playlists, Groove Music also featured custom radio stations designed to introduce you to new music similar to songs or artists you already enjoy. You simply picked a song, artist or genre, and Groove Music would play an endless stream of music like it. This could be a handy way of broadening your musical horizons without going too far out of your wheelhouse.
Upload your own music
Uploading your own music is the one feature of Groove Music Microsoft is maintaining beyond the discontinuation of the service at the end of 2017. This allows you to upload your personal music collection and stream it through Groove Music to compatible devices. This is especially useful if you're tired of ferreting through messy CD piles, or if your computer's hard drive is groaning under the weight of thousands of MP3s. It doesn't matter where the music came from, either – whether you ripped the music from a CD or purchased it through the iTunes Music Store, you can upload it to your Microsoft Account through the OneDrive application or the Groove Music website. Once uploaded, you can stream your personal music collection just as easily as the regular Groove Music catalogue. Best of all, you don't need a Groove Music Pass subscription to upload and stream your own music.
Uploading songs to Groove Music does come with a few restrictions. You can only upload a maximum of 50,000 songs to your Microsoft Account, and songs must be in either MP3, WMA or M4A (AAC) format.
All Groove-compatible devices (listed further down) with the exception of Sonos speakers support playing uploaded music.
Background music on Xbox One
For a long time, the ability to play background music was one of the most-requested features on Xbox One. It wasn't until August 2016 that the feature finally rolled out alongside the Groove Music app. To make use of it, you simply loaded up your tunes on the Groove Music app, then used the Home button to switch out and boot up a game, browse the Internet, or use any other app while the music kept playing.
What music was available on Groove Music?
Groove Music had over 38 million songs available to stream in its library. Popular artists like Lorde, Drake and Ed Sheeran were all present and accounted for, but there were plenty of deeper cuts in genres like indie and blues, too.
What devices were compatible with Groove Music?
After the failure of its Zune music players, Microsoft clearly realised the importance of making its services available on as many devices as possible. Groove Music did away with the idea of only supporting the Windows platform and instead supported a range of different devices across multiple ecosystems. These included:
- Windows 8.1/10 PCs
- Web browsers (Internet Explorer 11+, Mozilla Firefox 42+, Google Chrome 34+, Safari 8+)
- Xbox 360 and Xbox One
- Android smartphones and tablets (Android 4.1+)
- iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches (iOS 8.0+)
- Windows Phone 8/8.1/10
- Sonos speakers
Can I still purchase a Groove Music subscription?
Due to its imminent discontinuation, Groove Music Pass subscriptions are no longer available to purchase.
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