So Smart DJ in the Zune Software, as we discussed yesterday, picks various songs for you, that it thinks you will like based on what you already like. Then there is Mix View. When you are listening to a song a small icon shows up under the song that looks like a few squares. If you click on this it will take you to Mix View. It will have the album you are currently listening to in the middle, and then squares show up all around it with albums and artists that are related in some way to the current artist (either influenced by, and influence of, or similar in sound to). It will also have other Zune users that frequently play that artist, so you can see what else they are listening to and what they like, because it might be something you enjoy. As soon as you click on a related artist a whole new set of related artists will pop up, and you can keep going and going and going (while streaming the full songs of these new, or not so new artists that you are discovering).
If you find an artist that you like, you can click on the “i” icon and it will bring you to the artist in the Zune Marketplace. One thing really great about the Zune Marketplace here is that if you already own the song or the album, it is completely integrated into the marketplace. It will tell you right in the marketplace that you already have the song in your collection. Sometimes I forget if I already have an album, so this is an easy way to know for sure. If you have a Zune Pass you can download the full song, or purchase it. The Zune Pass is $15/a month. At first I was a little skeptical about it, until I realized that we probably spend that amount in music every month anyway! Plus you get 10 song credits each month to purchase songs that you can keep forever. Anything you download is yours as long as the Zune Pass is still active, but anything you buy with your credits is yours forever. You can also download movies/TV Shows/music videos/apps/etc in the Zune Marketplace.
Browsing through your collectionin the Zune Software is also incredibly easy. You don’t have to decide if you want to sort by artist, album or song title. It does all three for you at the same time. If you do want to narrow it down you can click on the artist on the left. The middle section will show all of the albums you have of that artist, and then all of the songs that are in ALL of those albums. Which is super helpful for me since I can never remember which album a certain song is on. So by pulling up the artist and then seeing all of the albums I can just scroll through all of the songs on the right. Much more helpful then scrolling through albums like a rolodex…
With a Zune Pass you also have access to the Channelsfeature. Channels are weekly updating playlists of various varieties. You can select a playlist of America’s Top 40, which will have the current top 40 hits, or a 60-minute cardio rock mix that will have 60 minutes of upbeat songs that you can work out to. There are several other channels to choose from, just start subscribing to your favorites, and you will always have new music to discover!
The last thing about the software I want to talk about is the MiniView. You can minimize the software into a small convenient widget on your desktop. Again, the widget is gorgeous to look at, and has everything you need it to have (the upcoming songs in the playlist, the album art, artist, album name and song name, next and back buttons, volume and a pause/play button. There is also a view when it’s paused to resume playing, play any of your Smart DJ lists, or view your “pins” (anything you have pinned to your Quickplay area I discussed yesterday). Microsoft has really made a push to give you access to the things YOU care about most in the shortest amount of clicks/time. It’s definitely the right direction and they have spread it across all of their platforms (Windows, Windows Phone, Office, Zune, etc).
When I was listening to Steve Jobs speak at his keynote the other week, he was talking about the new version of iTunes. He mentioned that music discovery was important to people. Yet iTunes is still seriously lacking in this department. I can never tell how much I like or dislike a song in 30 seconds. So not only does the Zune Software let me listen to the whole song to find out if I like it, it helps me to discover new artists that I may like SO easily and quickly with features like Smart DJ, MixView, and Channels. Clearly the Zune Software is all about discovering new songs and artists that you will love. So go download the software for FREE today! (and sorry if it makes you end up going out and buying a Zune, you won’t regret it!)
*Disclosure – Microsoft gave me a Zune HD device and one to give away, but did not give me any stipulations on what to write about, and really didn’t even mention the software, so all opinions are my own, and Microsoft did not pay or compensate me in any other way.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.