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It’s not often that you see Sony and Microsoft collaborating. But Sony’s digital music division Gracenote is providing music recognition, metadata, and other features for the music-matching service in Microsoft’s Xbox Music.

Xbox Music is Microsoft’s cross-platform music service, which got a big overhaul in advance of the launch of the Xbox One game console. Xbox Music is available on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows 8, Windows RT tablets, PCs, iOS devices, Android phones, and Windows 8 smartphones.

It’s not clear why Sony would partner with Microsoft. Clearly, Sony can make money doing this. But sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your friend. And in this case, the main foe is Apple and its iTunes music service. Microsoft’s willingness to use Gracenote suggests it is getting over its not-invented-here syndrome and is being realistic about what it can achieve on its own.

Users who purchase an Xbox Music Pass can get the Gracenote-powered feature. It will let them identify music albums and tracks they already own, unlock them in the cloud, and stream them across their devices. Xbox Music subscribers will be able to unlock digital music files in the cloud regardless if albums and songs were purchased from other services, such as Amazon and iTunes, or even if they were ripped from CDs.


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This nearly eliminates the need for fans to spend time manually rebuilding their entire collection every time they get a new device. In addition, subscribers can use Emeryville, Calif.-based Gracenote’s collection of music metadata to receive music recommendations, edit song and genre information, manage collections, and fill in missing album cover art.

“A big frustration for music fans is having to completely rebuild their collections when switching between streaming or download services,” said Stephen White, the president at Gracenote. “Gracenote music recognition and data will make it easy for Xbox Music users to migrate their collections to the cloud without searching, repurchasing, or even uploading.”

Xbox Music lets users migrate their collections to the cloud, then add more music, enjoy playlists, and discover new artists. It leverages Gracenote’s database of “audio fingerprints” to identify and match the millions of songs in the Xbox Music catalog. When Xbox Music fans scan their music collection, these fingerprints are matched to the Gracenote database to pick the correct albums and tracks in the Xbox Music service. An Xbox Music Pass costs $10 a month.

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