Microsoft plans to shut down the free version of its Xbox streaming service in December, the company announced today.
Xbox Music Pass is an on-demand streaming music service that’s more or less Microsoft’s version of Spotify, which it created to help lure customers into its Xbox media ecosystem. Previously, the company allowed people to listen to an ad-supported version of the service for free on computers running Windows 8.1 and the web (provided you logged in with a Microsoft account). After six months, Microsoft capped the amount of time you could spend listening to 10 hours. Now, however, the company is shifting its strategy.
“We are focusing Xbox Music to deliver the ultimate music purchase and subscription service experience for our customers,” Microsoft said in a new FAQ page regarding the shutdown of its ad-supported service. Those who wish to spend $10 per month can gain access the the entire service without ads or limitations on how long you can use it.
Microsoft declined to elaborate to VentureBeat on the reasoning behind ending its ad-supported Xbox Music Pass.
The move also comes suspiciously close to Spotify’s recent announcement that it will start offering a “Family” subscription plan, which offers a discount to people who want to have several members of their family use the service. As Spotify is the leader among streaming music services, it’s very possible that Microsoft decided the ad-supported Music Pass wasn’t likely to help grab more people into the service with the offer of free music.
Why? Well, Spotify also offers an ad-supported — albeit limited — on-demand version of its music service. So if Spotify users can spend another $5 to $10 to put family members on their account then there is even less of a chance those people will end up using competing music services like Xbox Music Pass. So, it really doesn’t make sense to keep up with the free version of Xbox Music Pass.
The ad-supported service will continue to operate until December when Microsoft will shut it down. The company notes that playlists created on Xbox Music as well as any songs purchased on the platform will remain available.