While Xbox Music is optimized for a cloud-based music collection that you access from multiple devices, it also lets you import and manage the music you may have acquired previously by ripping audio CDs or from rival music services such as Amazon MP3, Apple iTunes, Google Play Music and others. The caveat? This only works on Windows and Windows Phone.
Note: This article is excerpted from my free e-book, Xbox Music Field Guide, which you can download in PDF, ePub and Mobi formats from the Field Guide Books web site. Thanks for reading! –Paul
Obviously, this activity will be particularly interesting to those who do not subscribe to an Xbox Music Pass. But even for those with Xbox Music Pass, the ability to use your own music can be useful since the Xbox Music Store doesn’t include all of the music in the world. I legally obtained the remastered collection of albums by The Beatles, for example, and I use these methods to get that music onto my Windows and Windows Phone devices and play it with Xbox Music.
Note: If Xbox Music can match your own music to music in Xbox Music Store, it will also be added to your cloud-based collection, so you can access it on other devices. But this capability requires an Xbox Music Pass.
Xbox Music monitors your Music library and will import any music it finds so that you can now access and manage this music using Xbox Music. This is automatic, so the first time you run Xbox Music, you will see messages in the top right of the app noting that the app is making this music available to you from within the app. This messaging will also appear later if music files are added to the Music library via a file copy or by downloading them from another service.
If you wish to just access your own music, you can do so: In any of the Collection views, simply choose Only on this PC from the view filter drop-down. (This view will also display any music that was downloaded from Xbox Music Store.)
You can also customize which folders Xbox Music looks to for music. By default, the folders in your Music library—your Music folder and Public Music—are monitored. But if you wish to add another location—perhaps your iTunes library is on a second drive—you can do so.
To choose which folders Xbox Music monitors for music, open Settings and then Preferences, and then select “Choose where we look for music on this PC.” A full-screen notification appears, letting you add and remove folders as you prefer.
Note: Some music you import may not be correctly matched to the Xbox Music Store collection. But you can manually match any album by selecting it and choosing Match Album Info from the app bar and then stepping through the wizard.
You can use your Windows Phone handset to listen to your own music as well. But you must first get that music onto your phone. You can do this with File Explorer or with a Windows Phone app for PCs: Just connect your phone to your PC via a USB cable to get started.
File Explorer will appeal more to those who are familiar with this interface: Just drag and drop music from your PC into the Music folder on your phone. (If you have a microSD card in your phone and are using that for data storage, you should copy the music files to the Music folder on the card instead.)
If you find this process too complex, you can use Microsoft’s Windows Phone app instead. This app is installed automatically when you first connect your phone to your PC.
To copy music from your PC to the phone, tap the Add to Phone tile and then choose Add Music. In the file browser that appears, select the folders and/or files you wish to add to the phone and then tap Add. (Unlike File Explorer, the Windows Phone app will automatically choose the correct location on the phone to store music. If you’re using a microSD card for music storage, the music will be copied there, for example.)
Note: You can also use this app to copy playlists to your phone.
On your Windows Phone handset, you can view your own music—and any other music that is downloaded to the device—by opening the Xbox Music app and navigating to Artists, Albums, or Songs in Collection. Then, tap the Showing toggle and choose either “On my phone” or “SD Card,” depending on where your music is stored.
Xbox Music also lets you import your playlist from iTunes, Windows Media Player and Zune, and while that process isn’t nearly so seamless, I will be writing about that soon as well.