Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Zune pass is the best thing to happen to music

Most of you know that I'm an unabashed Microsoft fan. I believe that - especially in the area of music players - Microsoft has got one awesome product in the area of MP3 players. What I didn't realize until my lovely wife Val bought me a Zune pass for my birthday how much their music service rocked. I've purchased a few songs through the Zune network for my player, but the bulk of my music I'd either purchased as a CD and ripped, or bought from Amazon MP3. While I still by songs occasionally from Amazon my music buying and listening has been totally replaced by the Zune pass. With the Zune pass I can download and listen to (either on my PC or Zune) almost any music in the Zune library. I come across rare artists who do not publish on Zune or require you to buy their whole album - but I believe these artists are rapidly becoming dinosaurs in the music industry.

Let me explain how I've used my Zune pass. Since I can - at will - download just about any music I can take a new album (say for instance the new Ellipse album by Imogen Heap), and play it on my Zune or computer at my leisure. I pay nothing more than the $15/month that the Zune pass costs. If I like the album (or any other music I listen to) I can transfer up to 10 songs from the album to my "non-DRM mp3" collection. In the meantime I can listen to the Zune pass music I've downloaded (millions of songs and albums available) for the remaining $5/month. Since I was already spending more than $10/month on mp3 music this just means that the $10 I was spending through Amazon or another vendor, goes through Zune. Would you pay $5/month to be able to - at will - download just about any music from just about any artist you might be interested in or hear on the radio? I certainly would - and DO!

What this has meant is that I get to explore music I'd never buy just to try - and have discovered all sorts of new artists, labels and music that I'd never picked. The social card above tracks - in real time - the songs I've listened to recently and what artists. I recently downloaded music from Imogen Heap (her whole back catalog), Tom Waits (new albums I'm trying out), Fatboy Slim, the Eskimobots, Funk Mundial, A R Rahman (a pop music icon in India who does soundtracks), MIA, 3OH13, Britney Spears (yes Britney), Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, and The Ting Tings. If you look at my list of recent songs in a few weeks it will probably feature entirely different songs and music. The other day I relived yesterday and downloaded the top 100 songs of the 1970's. And that's what I love about Zune Pass - almost unlimited options to explore!

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