I’ve been a subscriber to Microsoft’s music service, in its various guises, for nearly four years now. Starting with a Zune Music pass, through the Xbox Music rebrand and now as Groove Music. It’s been a very up and down relationship, with Microsoft doing their usual job of making wholesale changes to the service and throwing out much that was good as well as what needed changing.
Most of the time I’ve felt like I’m the only one that’s using the service.
I know I’m not though, because if I look at Microsoft’s community pages I see that there are plenty of people giving feedback. Speak to the average man on the street though and chances are that when you tell them that you subscribe to Groove they will look at you blankly. Mention Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music or even Tidal and chances are you’ll get more of a response.
Is Microsoft planning on making Groove a secret club for its fans only, or does it want to deliver a service that competes with those other services? Honestly, at the moment it feels like Groove Music pass exists solely because Microsoft had to tick the box that said ‘Streaming Music subscription service’.
For starters Microsoft needs to match other services and start offering Family Plans for Groove. For many potential customers this is a complete showstopper. Social features are still missing (they were a part of the Zune service, albeit of limited capability) and even a basic staple of a music service, the ability to share a playlist is absent from the service – unless you count the web based player, which I don’t.
Microsoft has shown that it understands the benefits of family plans in Office 365 and the Xbox Live service demonstrates its ability to deliver an excellent social experience. Adding the same capabilities to Groove may not be trivial, but it should be achievable.
And, above all, Microsoft needs to start shouting about its music service. Groove remains the most available of the music services, its the best looking and least intrusive, whilst managing to do things that other services choke on (uploading of music to the cloud anyone?)