Back in October, Microsoft announced that it had partnered with iHeartRadio so that one could see iHeartRadio radio station links for artists within the Groove app in Windows 10. But how does this really work?
The reason I ask, somewhat rhetorically since I have actually just figured it out, is that I never see these links in Groove. And I feel like I’ve been missing something obvious.
Here’s the way it’s supposed to work, according to Microsoft:
To enjoy iHeartRadio without a Groove Music Pass, simply go to the artist’s page that best fits your mood. If there’s an artist-based custom radio station available from iHeartRadio, you will see the option right on the page. Click on it whenever you’re ready to listen – we will even help you install the iHeartRadio app if you don’t currently have it – and then just lean back and enjoy your station.
This image, from Microsoft, shows how this will look.
As noted, I’ve never actually seen an iHeartRadio link in Groove … But I do have Groove Music Pass. So is that why? Do you need to nothave a Music Pass for this iHeartRadio functionality to work? (After all, Microsoft does specify “without a Groove Music Pass…” above.)
For example, using the same artist in that Microsoft image above (James Bay), here’s what that view looks like in my Groove app:
As you can see, there’s no “More ways to listen” section. Curious.
The first simple test is obvious enough: Sign out of the Microsoft account. When I do that, I can’t see James Bay or any other artist in Groove, as you can only do that with the Store app. You cannot view an artist in Groove unless you’ve signed in with a Microsoft account.
Clearly, then, you have to use a Microsoft account, and it must be one without a Music Pass. So I tested that next, signing in with a Microsoft account for which I have no Music Pass.
Mystery solved, right?
Here’s the thing: Even when you sign in with a Microsoft account, the Groove app does not let you arbitrarily browse artists. So when I search for James Bay, to keep that tradition alive, I get the same view you see above: It says “Sorry, we didn’t find that in your collection. Search for ‘James Bay’ in Store.”
Have you figured it out yet? Do you understand how epically useless this “integration” between iHeartRadio and Groove really is? No? Well, here you go then:
In order to listen to an iHeartRadio radio station for an artist you’re browsing in Groove, you must already have at least one song by that artist in your Groove music collection. You cannot create iHeartRadio stations from Groove otherwise.
In my case, I have a few albums worth of songs on my hard drive, so when I browse my own collection, using a Microsoft account without a Music Pass, I do finally see the “More ways to listen” section with the iHeartRadio link.
Success? Hardly. It’s bad enough that this functionality is so unclear, but it’s near useless to boot. If you just open the iHeartRadio app, you can very easily create a custom radio station based on any artist–even James Bay, by the way—or on many other criteria.
This is terrible.