Microsoft announced today that it would launch its own Internet music service, Xbox Music, giving consumers yet another option in the rapidly growing streaming music market
Available tomorrow on Xbox Live, the company said the service will give U.S. listeners access to more than 18 million songs, according to TechCrunch. The service will then be available on all Windows 8 PCS and tablets on October 26. Xbox Music will come in two versions: The first, which is available for free, will be available on PCs and will play ads every two to five hours, AllThingsD reported.
The premium, ad-free version, will cost $9.99 a month and be available on PCs, the Xbox game console, and the Windows Phone. Both services let listeners purchase songs individually--a la iTunes--for $.99 a track.
Microsoft will also make the premium service available on iOS and Android devices next year with an Xbox Music app, the All Things D reported.
The move puts Xbox Music in direct competition with several start-ups looking to distrupt the industry.
Most notably: Spotify. The company just announced last week that it would offer its services on Samsung televisions, and it's also reportedly developing a browser-based service (it's currently only available by download).
Recently, Grooveshark made a return to the Internet streaming game with its HTML5 app. And finally, Deezer, a French web-based music streaming service, just raised $130 million from Access Industries, the holdings company that also owns Warner Music Group.
And, while not a start-up, Apple is also rumored to be adding an Internet radio service to iTunes.
“There’s going to be an oncoming battle between users,” Gartner research VP Mike McGuire, who covers the online music sector, told Inc. in September. “Will it be pay-to-access or pay-to-own that will win? I think that sometime in the future--except extreme music fans and audiophiles--it will be pay-to-access.”