Everything you need to know about Groove Music

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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 subscription-based music streaming service operated by Microsoft. Like its main competitors Spotify and Apple Music, Groove Music provides subscribers with instant access to millions of songs they can stream to their phones, tablets or PCs over the Internet. Additionally, Groove Music supports purchasing songs and albums outright through the Windows Store; they're yours to keep and listen to indefinitely regardless of whether you have a Groove Music subscription or not.

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 does Groove Music support?

Groove Music offers a number of extra features to complement its music streaming. All are exclusive to Groove Music Pass subscribers, with the sole exception of uploading and playing your own music which anyone with a Microsoft Account can take advantage of.

No ads

Unlike Spotify, Groove Music does not offer a free, ad-supported subscription tier for its Groove Music Pass service. On the plus side, this means the service is completely ad-free, so you can stream all the music you want without any annoying interruptions.

Offline play

With a Groove Music Pass subscription, you don'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've purchased from the Windows Store can be downloaded through the Groove Music app to compatible devices and listened to anytime and anywhere, even if you don't have an active Internet connection. You can download music to a maximum of 10 different devices at once, but you'll need to connect to the Internet at least once every 30 days on each device in order to keep listening offline. This is a security measure to ensure your Groove Music Pass subscription is still active.

Currently, neither the Xbox 360 nor the Xbox One support offline play.

Playlists

Playlists are a crucial component of any music service, and Groove Music doesn't disappoint in this regard. Not only can you build custom playlists of your favourite dance beats or your perfect mix of adrenaline-pumping rock tracks, you can discover a whole range of new music by queuing up one of Groove Music's many curated playlists. These playlists cover a variety of different genres, moods and activities, and are tailored to your personal tastes based on the music you like to listen to.

Personalised radio stations

Following on from the curated playlists, Groove Music also features custom radio stations designed to introduce you to new music similar to songs or artists you already enjoy. You simply pick a song, artist or genre, and Groove Music will play an endless stream of music like it. This can be a handy way of broadening your musical horizons without going too far out of your wheelhouse.

Upload your own music

On top of the millions of songs available in Groove Music's library, you can 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 load up your tunes on the Groove Music app, then use the Home button to switch out and boot up a game, browse the Internet, or use any other app while the music keeps playing.

What music is available on Groove Music?

Groove Music has over 38 million songs available to stream in its library. Popular artists like Lorde, Drake and Ed Sheeran are all present and accounted for, but there's plenty of deeper cuts in genres like indie and blues, too. If that's not enough, you can always flesh the selection out by uploading your own music through OneDrive.

What devices are 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 does away with the idea of only supporting the Windows platform and instead supports a range of different devices across multiple ecosystems. These include:

  • 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

How much does Groove Music cost?

A Groove Music Pass subscription will set you back $11.99 a month, with the option to cancel at any time.

Can I try Groove Music for free?

If you're wary about signing up for anything without trying it first, you're in luck. Microsoft is currently offering a 30-day free trial of Groove Music Pass for anyone who hasn't used the service before. You can sign up for the trial on the Groove Music website. Just be aware that you'll need to provide your payment information to register, and if you don't cancel the trial before the 30 days is up, you'll be automatically charged for the next month.

Other music streaming trials

Sign up for free 3-month Apple Music trial from Apple

Access millions of songs, get personal recommendations from friends and family and tune into Apple's 24/7 global radio station with Apple Music.

View details

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