MSN Music has always been a great place to go to when you want to find a host of great music related content. I mean, just this minute I have discovered a great new artist thanks to MSN and the great catalogue of news and reviews of artists and songs.
No matter how popular they are, and it is currently the largest news and entertainment site in the UK, attracting 25m unique users a month, it’s probably not got the recognition of say iTunes.
However, Microsoft would probably not enjoy hearing this, but their Zune MP3 player and music store brand is hardly a threatening competitor to the iPod and iTunes.
The Zune Marketplace, for those that don’t know, is basically the one-stop shop for DRM-free MP3s, similar to the iTunes store in that respect, and will soon cater for your Windows Phone 7 music in addition to the current crop of Zune PMPs.
Kept separate, MSN Music and Zune are fairly lacklustre, in truth, not really offering anything over and above the competition, but now Microsoft has announced a convergence of the pair and together they really are pretty good, to put it plainly, and combined the result is seemingly very similar to the iTunes store.
You can read reviews of an album or song from other listeners on both, you can hear expert opinions before buying and downloading the tracks direct to your drive on both, and you can access both from a variety of devices, so all in all they are pretty alike when it comes to music. However, there is something that this combination of MSN Music and Zune offers which perhaps doesn’t offer any real difference in functionality, but will ultimately make it more accessible to its users and may even benefit a host of smaller artists.
It’s a simple thing, and it has been around on MSN for a while, but now it has been integrated with Zune, the editorials featured on MSN will allow direct access to the songs, artists and albums in the Marketplace via MSN.
OK, so it doesn’t seem that revolutionary, but it will bring a lot of added convenience, and could mean that users are more inclined to try out recommended artists if they are not forced to research themselves. Lazy, I know.
There has also been another interesting development here in the UK, though, with Zune Pass becoming available for £8.99 per month allowing users to access a catalogue of 7 million songs and the ability to stream unlimited quantities of music over the Internet. However, would you rather use the Zune online music subscription or do you prefer the likes of Spotify, Sky Songs or Music Anywhere?
Steven Wilson-Beales, from MSN Music, said “The integration between MSN Music and Zune in the UK is an exciting advance in our entertainment and music offering.
“People will now be able to consume a range of music news, videos, spotlights on new music and artist information and have at their fingertips, the ability to purchase and listen to the music they want, wherever they want. The integration between MSN and Zune Pass will allow subscribers to log in from any supported web browser for unlimited access to a catalogue of 7 million songs in the Zune Marketplace.”
So bringing such a hugely appreciated service closer together with the Zune, which perhaps isn’t as successful, suggests to me that in the build up to the launch of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is doing all it can to offer an all inclusive music and entertainment package similar to that of iTunes, dare I say it again.
So what do you think of Zune or of MSN? Do you like the look of Windows Phone 7 and will you want to get one? Do you think anyone can ever topple the might of Apple in the music industry? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.