Is there a music app for Xbox?

With over 112 million monthly active users in 2021, the Xbox gaming console has become a hugely popular platform for playing video games and accessing entertainment content. While the Xbox is best known for gaming, it also includes built-in apps and access to third party apps that allow users to stream and listen to music. Whether you want background music while gaming, a soundtrack for your party, or just a way to access your favorite tunes, the Xbox console offers a variety of music app options to meet different needs.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the music app landscape on Xbox, including built-in and third party options, smartphone integration, key features, setup instructions, and limitations. We’ll also take a look at the future outlook for Xbox music apps and how Microsoft plans to improve the experience. Whether you’re a long-time Xbox user looking to expand your music options or a newcomer interested in exploring Xbox capabilities, this guide will cover everything you need to know about accessing, streaming, and listening to music on your Xbox console.

Brief History of Xbox

Microsoft entered the gaming console market in 2001 with the launch of the original Xbox console. This made Xbox a new competitor in the console space against established brands like Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo. The original Xbox console was notable for being the first console to come equipped with an internal hard drive for game storage and saves. It also popularized online multiplayer gaming on consoles with the launch of Xbox Live in 2002 (source).

The Xbox 360 launched in 2005 as the successor to the original Xbox. The Xbox 360 introduced high definition graphics up to 1080p resolution and wireless controllers. It was also the first console to provide a marketplace for digital game downloads and content with the Xbox Live Marketplace. Over its lifetime, the Xbox 360 sold over 84 million units globally (source).

In 2013, Microsoft released the Xbox One as the third generation of Xbox consoles. It focused on entertainment capabilities beyond just gaming, allowing users to access various media apps, live TV, and digital assistants. The Xbox One also pioneered the use of Kinect motion sensors and voice controls. The latest generation is the Xbox Series X/S, launched in 2020 with cutting edge specifications and performance.

Built-in Xbox Music Apps

The Xbox console comes with several built-in music apps that allow you to stream music in the background while gaming. Some of the most popular built-in music apps include:

Groove Music – This was Xbox’s original music app before it was discontinued in 2017. It allowed Xbox users to stream from OneDrive and purchase music from the Xbox Music Store. However, the service was discontinued and the app removed from Xbox consoles (1).

Spotify – Arguably the most popular music streaming service, Spotify offers ad-supported and premium subscription options. The Xbox app allows background listening, playlists, recommendations, and more. Spotify has over 70 million tracks available (2).

Pandora – Pandora internet radio allows you to create personalized radio stations based on artists, songs, or genres. The app is free with ads or you can upgrade for an ad-free experience. Pandora has over 70 million tracks available (3).

iHeartRadio – iHeartRadio provides access to live radio stations, custom artist stations, podcasts, and on-demand radio shows. The Xbox app features background listening and voice controls. iHeartRadio has over 20 million songs available (4).

These built-in, free music apps allow Xbox users to stream tunes in the background while gaming. They provide access to massive music libraries without purchasing music. Simply download the app and log in to start listening.





Third Party Music Apps

While Xbox consoles come with some built-in music apps, many users like to take advantage of third party apps that aren’t developed by Microsoft. Some of the most popular third party music apps on Xbox include:

Apple Music – In October 2022, Apple launched a new Apple Music app for Xbox consoles (1). The app lets Apple Music subscribers stream over 100 million songs as background audio on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S consoles. The app also supports Apple Music Radio.

YouTube – While not strictly a music app, the official YouTube app on Xbox allows users to stream music videos and songs from YouTube’s massive library. It offers background audio playback so you can listen while gaming.

Tidal – This high fidelity music streaming service offers an app for Xbox consoles, providing access to Tidal’s catalog of over 70 million tracks. It supports background audio and offline listening.

Using Smartphones as Music Controls

One convenient way to play music on your Xbox is by streaming it directly from your smartphone. Many Xbox models support streaming music playback from iPhone, Android, and Windows phones using Wi-Fi and the Xbox SmartGlass app.

To start streaming music, simply connect your phone and Xbox to the same Wi-Fi network. Then launch the Xbox SmartGlass app on your phone and select the music you want to play. The app will allow you to control music playback right from your phone, including play, pause, skip, volume, etc. The audio will stream directly through your Xbox speakers so you can enjoy your music library.

This method provides full music controls without needing a separate music app on your Xbox. As long as your phone and Xbox are on the same network, you have access to your entire music library. One downside is that you can’t use your phone for other tasks while streaming music to the Xbox.

Overall, using SmartGlass to stream music from your smartphone is a convenient feature for Xbox owners. It provides wireless music playback without needing to purchase any additional apps or services. Just connect to Wi-Fi, launch SmartGlass, and you’re ready to rock out on your Xbox using the music library from your phone.


Music App Features

The built-in Groove Music app for Xbox allows you to access playlists, albums, artists and songs. You can browse genres or search for specific tracks or artists. The app supports offline playback, so you can download your favorite songs and playlists directly to your console (up to 100,000 tracks per device). This allows you to listen even without an internet connection [1].

Groove Music integrates with OneDrive, so you can access your personal music collection in the cloud. It also connects with the Groove Music Pass subscription, which gives you access to millions of songs to stream or download. Playlists you create on Groove can be shared and followed by others. You can also share songs through social networks [2].

In addition to Groove, third-party apps like Spotify give you similar features for managing playlists and accessing streaming music libraries. SpotifyConnect allows control of music playback from your smartphone. With a premium subscription, you can enjoy ad-free listening, offline playback and high quality audio [3].



Music App Setup

Setting up a music app on your Xbox is a straightforward process. The first step is to download the music app from the Xbox Store. Popular options include Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and Apple Music. After downloading the app, open it and login using your account credentials. For example, to use Spotify, you will need to login with your Spotify username and password.

The Xbox Store includes most major music streaming services. According to Microsoft’s support article, you can “Search for and download your preferred music app that supports background music, such as Spotify or Pandora, in the Xbox Store” (

Once you login, the app will be ready to use. You can browse music and create playlists directly on your Xbox. When playing a game, you can double-tap the Xbox button to bring up the guide overlay, where you can control music playback without leaving the game.

Music App Limitations

There are several key limitations to be aware of when using music apps on the Xbox platform. According to this Reddit discussion, most music apps on Xbox do not properly support background audio. This means the music will stop whenever you exit the app or start playing a game. Only apps that are specifically programmed to enable background audio will allow uninterrupted music playback.

Additionally, this article points out that Xbox Music has discontinued support for older Windows and Windows Phone platforms. So users on those devices will not be able to access the built-in Xbox Music app. There are also listening limits imposed, restricting unlimited, on-demand music streaming.

In general, music apps on Xbox face restrictions due to platform limitations as well as licensing agreements. Developers have to properly implement background audio and other features in order for their apps to provide seamless music playback. So users may find inconsistencies across different apps and versions. Checking app reviews and functionality before downloading can help identify any major technical issues or challenges.

Future Outlook

The future looks bright for music apps on Xbox consoles. With the launch of the Xbox Series X and S in 2020, Microsoft has indicated a renewed focus on media and entertainment capabilities. Many experts predict we will see new music apps and features in the coming years.

There is speculation that popular streaming services like Spotify may finally release Xbox apps, providing access to their massive music libraries and features like playlists and recommendations. Additionally, new spatial audio technologies like Dolby Atmos for Headphones may become supported in Xbox music apps, taking advantage of the surround sound capabilities of Xbox consoles and providing more immersive listening.

Some analysts predict closer integration between Xbox and Windows for music, allowing seamless transition between playing music on your console and PC. Features like shared playlists and queues across devices may become a reality. There are also rumors that Microsoft is developing enhanced music discovery tools tailored to gamers’ tastes.

While details are still uncertain, the future is bright for Xbox music. With Microsoft’s renewed focus on media, we can expect ongoing innovation in music apps and features that cement Xbox as an entertainment hub for gamers. Experts predict capabilities that rival dedicated streaming platforms, with tight integration across Xbox and Windows for the ultimate music experience.


In summary, the Xbox has a variety of music apps built directly into the console like Groove Music and YouTube. There are also popular third party apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music available. You can even use your smartphone as a remote to control music playback on your Xbox. The music apps allow you to stream music, create playlists, listen to internet radio stations, and more. They provide an easy way to access your music library and streaming services directly through your Xbox. Just be aware of potential limitations like device compatibility. Overall, the Xbox platform offers players solid options for music listening to accompany their gaming. The built-in and third party apps provide a great music experience right from your Xbox.

In conclusion, if you want to listen to music on your Xbox while gaming, there are very capable options available. Consider using the built-in Groove Music or YouTube apps first, since they integrate directly with the console and controller. Also look into downloading popular third party apps like Spotify or Pandora for access to streaming music services. And don’t forget you can use your smartphone as a remote to control music playback too. Compare the main features of each app and decide which one best suits your musical preferences and listening habits. With the array of music apps available, you can easily find an option to play background music, access playlists, and stream internet radio on your Xbox console alongside gaming.

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