Bye bye Spotify, hello free Nokia Music

Bye bye Spotify, hello free Nokia Music

Summary: If you enjoy listening to various artists and discovering new music then the free Nokia Music service on Lumia Windows Phone devices may be just perfect for you.

Bye bye Spotify, hello free Nokia Music

Last week Nokia rolled out Nokia Music for the Lumia 710 and Lumia 900 devices here in the US. Nokia Music was a Lumia exclusive service released with the Lumia 800 outside the US, but it took almost a year to get it up and running here. I have been using it on both my Nokia Lumia 900 and Nokia N9 MeeGo device (yes, it runs on the N9 here in the US now too) since the release and have removed Spotify from both of these devices as this new FREE meets MY mobile music listening needs. Let's take an in-depth look at Nokia Music on the Lumia 900 and if you have a Lumia 900 or 710 I highly recommend you give it a try, it won't cost you anything but your time.

Nokia Mix Radio

I do not have a large personal music collection and have a rather eclectic taste in music where I listen to classic rock, Christian, classical, jazz, and country. It really depends on what I am doing and what kind of mood I am in. I have some favorite artists, but am open to listening to new artists as well so I prefer the "radio" model of listening where lots of different content is provided on a random basis to my devices. Thus, I am a perfect candidate for something like Nokia Music and I understand that some people prefer to listen to their own playlists and specific artists. There are lots of choices for all of us and so far I think Nokia Music was made just for people like me.

The Nokia Mix Radio functionality is provided by Nokia by real people and not machines. There is a team at Nokia that creates the unique Mix Radio playlists from approximately 17 million songs. There are AT&T exclusive mixes, featured mixes, top chart mixes, exercise mixes, mood-based mixes, celebrity mixes, and more. Nokia reports there are over 150 playlists available. You can even enter in your favorite artists and have Nokia Music develop custom mixes. I am a big fan of Sanctus Real and have a custom mix that is based on their sound. Nokia Music shows your recent mixes and lets you quickly access them later. Mixes can also be pinned to your Start screen for easy access and these Live Tiles actually do show album art and status of the mix.

Another major benefit of the Nokia Music service and Mix Radio is the ability to download music for listening to without a connection. Nokia Music supports offline download of music for a period of time from three to four hours of playback (I am trying to find out an official length allowed by the service). This is great for flights or other times when you do not have an active connection. If you need more music than this for offline usage then you can always switch to listening to any of your own music stored on your device or enjoy music you purchased through the Nokia Store.

My Music

While the real strength of discovery and exploration of music is found in Nokia Mix Radio, some people want to listen to their own music. Nokia brings in access to music stored on your device so you can use Nokia Music to select and play songs without having to use the Music utility found in Windows Phone. On the Nokia N9, your own music is found in the Music app while the Music Store app is where you go to listen to "radio" channels and purchase music.

When you tap My Music from within Nokia Music you will see all of the music stored on your device assembled in pages for artists, albums, songs, genres, and playlists. I cannot find any way to create a playlist on my Lumia 900 and the playlists screen instructs me to connect to a PC for playlists. This module functions much like the Windows Phone Music utility with controls for play, pause, forward, backward, shuffle, and repeat. Music controls can be accessed from above the lock screen as well. Unlike the current Windows Phone utility, you can also share what you are listening to with your social network (Windows Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook), via email, or via SMS. I like this ability to share with my social networks and hope Microsoft adds that to Windows Phone, something even the Zune HD has in place.

Nokia Music Store

If there is song you really enjoy and want to use it on other devices or make sure it is always in your collection then you can purchase songs from the store. I see that most individual songs are $1.29 each, but there are full album prices that reduce the per song price quite a bit. For example, I see one album at $9.90 that comes with 14 songs (71 cents per song). It would be great to see album and song specials, similar to what Amazon provides.


My wife and I have been reliving our youth when we never went to concerts and have seen Journey, Foreigner, Night Ranger, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and Weird Al Yankovic over the last year. Nokia has a Gigs page within Nokia Music that uses your location to help you find local live performances. You can even purchase tickets through various services, such as Songkick. Gigs can also be pinned to the Start screen or shared with your social networks and friends.

Recommended improvements

I realize this is the first release here in the US and the service is free, but I do have a couple of features I would like to see added. I like that my Zune Pass music service shows the album art of the last artist I was listening to on my Live Tile as it adds a bit of personalization and character to my Start screen. I want Nokia to add this type of Live Tile functionality as well since right now all I see is a musical note.

The Bing Music Search works well for identifying songs and letting me download from the Zune Marketplace, but I would like to see the option to choose the Nokia Music store as well. Android has support for multiple media providers like this and with the deep Microsoft and Nokia partnership I hope we see more integration of Nokia services in the Windows Phone experience.

Do you have other recommended improvements for the service?

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Topics: Mobility, Nokia, Smartphones

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  • Is there a Nokia Music Desktop program? Like Spotify

    No? Then no bye bye for Spotify for me. The Desktop client is Spotify's USP in the streamed music world.

    Rdio, Deezer all look good but let's face it, accessing them via a web browser isn't half as efficient as using a dedicated desktop client.

    The mobile apps are all much the same.
    • Yeah there is a desktop program...

      Its called Nokia Music Player. The free subscription applies to both the phone and your desktop.
  • ZunePass

    I'll keep with Microsofts addition (ZunePass) this allows unlimited (unlike spotify) downloading and streaming of music on my phone, PC, in a browser or on the XBox. I don't get the point of streaming radio... unless you like listening to music that you down't actually like.
    • Streaming radio is good for discovery

      It depends on the service of course, but I find the option of saying "play me music that sounds like x" to be pretty useful, obviously you won't always love every song but lots of people enjoy the process of digging out the gems. Other ways of finding music are available, it just depends what you enjoy.
      • SmartDJ

        You get that option in the music hub anyway, select your song then click Play SmartDJ mix.
    • Zune (XBox Music)

      I also prefer Xbox Music to Nokia Music. And the $9 a month is totally worth it if you download a lot of music and play it on your Xbox, Phone and PC....and soon tablet.
  • If you have a Windows Phone, you might as well have ZunePass

    There is not a music or podcast streaming service that is better than Zunepass, on any platform. I had an HTC Trophy with Verizon and discovered that streaming service can have a great catalog size, an intuitive app, and offer podcast management. If it wasn't for Verizon offering me unlimited 4G for another two years, I would never have switched to Android. But when I did I always missed, among other things about WP7, Zune. The Spotify app is terrible. They have a good selection, but the app is horrible. It was pain to download anything. There is a serious lack of organization within the app. I used it for two months and then I gave up.

    Pandora was equally as bad. So I decided to just use my old Trophy with Zunepass for music.

    I have heard both Pandora and Spotify for iOS are not nearly as bad however.
    Daniel Rogers
  • Nokia Music thoughts...

    I like lots of obscure electronica and most of their playlists are a bit on the bland side for my tastes. I'd definitely like a deeper selection of playlists.

    Also, If I like a particular song that's playing and hit 'Download', I'm only being given the option to Buy, even though I have a Zune Pass. It would be nice that if the song is covered on the Zune Pass then I'd be given a Download option as well.

    Overall there's no way I'd give up my Spotify because the sound quality is better, there are a number of artists I like that aren't on Nokia Music, and I love being able to precisely create my own playlists and share them easily.

    Having said that, this is is a very nice Pandora alternative, and I'm very happy Nokia has made it available!
  • I see todd's bottom

    Is cheering for Nokia, again. How much of your life, do you want Microsoft to control? I have no urge to but a crappy Lumia phone, so this Microsoft service, that only works with a small fragment of their feature phone OS, really comes into play here? Is it because you're a fanboy that you're claiming it to be the best? Zune Pass was/is a stupid Idea. Who in their right mind "rents music"? I don't care which screen name you're writing this blog under, you're message givres you away every time. It can be Matt Miller, todd's bottom, Will Farrell, etc, but you keep going with the double, double. (2 t's, followed by 2 l's, 2 d's followed by 2t's, 2 l's followed by 2 more l's) hasn't anyone else caught on to this, or did the get banned when they figured you out?
    Troll Hunter J
    • Back to apple with you

      ZunePass is great value I have it on 2 phones (same setup account), XBox, My fathers media center (which fully speech enabled and without any horrible iTech... see... and when I go round to friends i use it in the browser.... I don't like songs for more than a week so why would I buy them.. and why would I want a radio service. All in all I have around 48,000 songs downloaded from Zune and all legal.. It's a fantasic service.
      • Infact

        If Zunepass was an Apple product you'd probably be raving about it's value and simplicity.... which you'll probably do about Crapples upcoming music streaming service.
      • Maybe it's time to move out of your parent's basement.

        And start acting like a grown up?
        Troll Hunter J
    • Thanks trollhunter

      for that informative and concise post.

      What was the point? You look worse than all the other itards. Now take your pants off your head, stop waving the cucumber around, go back inside and stop making a scene.
      Little Old Man
    • Re: I see todd's bottom

      Kinda hard to claim being a troll hunter when you're the troll!

      Microsoft's Zune Pass is the perfect music discovery service for those of us that are not fair weather music fans. Personally, I have a music collection of over 8k tracks and growing. I'd say 95% of those tracks are owned while the remaining are rented.

      I don't buy songs that I don't LOVE and this is why Zune Pass is great. I can stream music to my Windows Phone device and if I like it can download it as a rental or buy it right there on my phone. When I get home it syncs with my PC and the tracks show up in my collection. What I then do is listen to that entire album as many times as I need to determine which tracks I love and want to purchase then delete those I don't love.

      This method keeps me from purchasing entire albums only to find that I only love a few tracks. It also helps me discover other songs on a particular album that I might have dismissed because of 30 to 1 minute previews that do little to give a listener a true feel for the album or song.

      My music can be streamed to my PC via browser or Zune desktop client, my XBox and my Phone. So, while the rental model may not make sense to you; it makes perfect sense to me because I get a helluva lot for my money in addition to 10 free DRM free tracks each and every month.
      • How is pointing out the troll

        considered being s troll? I notice patterns and comments made by certain persons to be the same verbatim, so I figure they must be from the same demented mind, and point that out.
        Troll Hunter J
    • Head...Meet Tinfoil Hat

      Please end your comment with an LOL or a JK. Because you can't be serious. I really, really want to believe you're not serious.
      • So anyone that refuses to drink the Microsoft Flavor-Aide

        Must be wearing a "Tin-Foil" hat? You just keep drinking the Grape Flavor-Aide, and keep giving Microsoft more control over your life, I simply refusing to let anyone have that much control over my life. If I had a choice between a Motorola RAZR (the original RAZR), or a New Nokia Lumia, I'd buy the RAZR over the cheap "Made in India" Nokia every time.
        Troll Hunter J
        • stupid comment

          all nokia phone are not made in india. they are made in many places other than india. just because its made in india doesnt make it cheap. do u think motorola raze is made in USA?
        • Racist moron..

          Get outta manufacturing it in India makes it some kind of useless shit...I dont know from where u got the idea that India is any backward than the others quality wise. Nokia gets their parts from different sources and they are known for top quality hardware from the start of their business...get outta ur fandroid dimension and look around once in a while...
  • Thanks Matthew and kudos to Nokia and Microsoft

    Really looking forward to owning my second Nokia phone. While my first Nokia was only a "dumb" phone, it was easily the best built mobile device I've ever owned, bar none. So long iPhone 4. You've been a useful tool but I'm bored with you so now you have to be blended.