Nokia Music for Windows 8 is a desktop version of Nokia’s streaming radio service available on Windows Phone 7.5. Similar to Pandora and Spotify, Nokia Music allows unlimited audio streaming of “Mixes” categorized by artist or genres. You can also download Mixes for offline use or use Nokia Music for local music on your computer. While Nokia Music for Windows 8 has a $3.99 monthly subscription, there is a seven day free trial that includes all features.
How it Works
Nokia Music uses streaming Mixes which are similar to Pandora. You cannot select specific tracks for on demand listening. Instead, each Mix is a radio station that focuses on an artist or genre and provides similar sounding tracks. You can browse through Nokia’s premade Mixes or create your own. The default Mixes include various genres, top charting music, recommendations from popular musicians, sponsored music, and more. Nokia’s library is large and includes various genres of music, standup comedy acts, and songs from TV ads. If you are not a subscriber you will be limited to only 30 second previews per track, which is far too short. Subscribers will be able to listen full length tracks.
Creating your own mix is much more limited as you can only search by artists and not other categories such as genre or time period. You can also only add in three artists at most, resulting in a limited selection of music. On the plus side any Mix, premade or your own, can be downloaded for offline listening. Offline tracks are unfortunately disabled for non-subscribers. If you’re not satisfied with Nokia’s selection of music you can also use the app to listen to your own local files.
How it feels
The layout is comprised on large and medium sized tiles grouped into sections. The sections of Nokia Music include the track you are currently listening to, previously Mixes, default Nokia Mixes, your own creations, downloaded music, and local music. On the main track page there are buttons to display a song’s lyrics or open a menu with the band’s information. Depending on the artist, this can include a bio, image gallery, their Twitter feed, upcoming shows, similar artists, and Mixes they appear in. This is a wealth of information that will help you learn more about bands and discover new music.
Right clicking on Mix will provide buttons to download the track, buy it from Nokia’s store, or remove it from the front sections. The options menu includes changing accounts, updating subscriptions, providing feedback to Nokia, troubleshooting, and permissions. Settings allow you to adjust audio quality based on your connection type (Wifi or mobile), permission to send personal data back to Nokia, display wallpapers, and if the app runs is allowed on the Lock screen. Nokia Music subscriptions are relatively new, yet the amount of options is surprisingly plentiful.
Nokia Music’s wide selection of music and comedy is very impressive. The quality of streaming audio is decent at 192kbps for all tracks. Downloading music is generally fast, although you can suffer delays and pauses in streaming if you download several Mixes at the same time. Music with offensive lyrics are either listed with a clear “Explicit” icon or are completely censored with more broadcast friendly versions. The latter is very surprising for an online streaming service. In most cases all of Nokia’s library is clean and there is no setting to listen to adult versions.
Accessing Nokia’s library requires either a Nokia account or Facebook along with a monthly subscription fee; this is also on top of the normal Microsoft account to run the app. Surprisingly, if you sign up with Facebook Nokia Music will not update your activity or provide any form of social linking. Without a subscription you will be limited to short 30 second clips and cannot download music.
Even though you need a subscription and cannot access on demand music, the app still provides an amazing selection of music and comedy as well as the ability to download Mixes. The amount of additional data about artists and lyrics helps to connect you to the music. Try out Nokia Music’s free trial to listen to a diverse assortment of music.