No surprise here: Microsoft’s leaked Xbox Music service pricing model is no different from every subscription music service out there. Unlimited streaming music on Xbox will cost £8.99 (about $14.50) per month, or you could elect for a slightly discounted upfront cost of £89.90 ($145.15) per year.
With the intention of letting select Xbox owners try out the new Windows 8 interface, Microsoft accidentally leaked the pricing model with the dashboard update, according to The Verge. From what could be determined based on photos taken of the interface, users will be offered a 14-day free trial (Spotify offers 30 days of its premium service for free, for the record) and it also looks like Microsoft will offer a free, ad-supported version of its music service. But in order to use Xbox Music on your console at all, beta testers are reporting that you’ll be required to own a subscription to Xbox LIVE Gold.
The pricing model is similar to Microsoft’s existing Zune Music Pass service, which currently charges $9.99 per month or $100 per year, and it’s likely that the U.S. subscription cost to Xbox Music will be structured similarly. Like Spotify, it could be a possibility for the service to offer additional tiered pricing models based on the amount of access that you’d like.
Microsoft is clearly looking to compete in the music streaming market, with Xbox Music replacing the Zune brand that’s soon to be canned. Xbox Music is essentially a big rebranding effort of an existing service that Microsoft hopes will reenergize its foray into music, a sector that the company has been falling behind compared to its competitors.
From what we know so far, our expectation is that many of the Zune Music Pass features will be ported to Xbox Music. Users will be able to access Xbox Music across multiple devices, including the Xbox, desktop PCs, smartphones, and tablets that are running the Windows 8 operating system, and the service even includes Zune Music’s “Smart DJ” function, which plays a mix of similar music based on the songs in your collection. It also appears that the ability to sync your playlists with other devices will make its way from Zune Music to Xbox Music.
Although the music streaming industry is crowded enough as is with just about every major tech company — Sony, Samsung, and Google all have streaming products, and you can’t discount popular services like Pandora, Rdio, Last.fm and Spotify. And it should be noted that none of these services have yet to debut a Windows 8 specific app, making Xbox Music the de facto music streaming service for Windows device owners once its launched.
The launch date of Xbox Music has yet to be announced by Microsoft.