In an “exclusive”, CNet’s Greg Sandoval is reporting that CNet has learned that “Microsoft is in talks with some of the major record companies about creating a new music service”. Sandoval reports that the service would supply music to the Xbox as well as “an upcoming Windows-based phone”, could launch sometime this year, could include streaming music as well as downloads, but it is “unclear exactly how this will differ from Microsoft’s Zune Music Pass”.
Which is interesting, because what the article describes is basically a rebranded Zune Pass (with some new deals cut with major music labels and new relationships with phone manufacturers such as Nokia and HTC), which is what we’ve been saying is on the way all along. As PocketNow reported earlier this month, expectations are for the Zune client to go away as a Windows Phone sync companion, and Tom Warren at The Verge has been adamant that what we now know as Zune will soon carry the Xbox Live brand:
The plan is apparently to use the Xbox Live branding across Xbox, Windows Phone, and Windows on the desktop. That branding shift is currently slated to happen some time this summer. Later, Microsoft intends to re-launch the music service as a simpler, easier to understand, and better integrated offering that is described as very similar to Spotify. It may also include a video component. Current Zune Pass subscribers will be able to keep their current subscription model if they so choose.
We’ve been saying for a long time that the Zune brand is going away, and aside from some tidbits of information about ongoing talks with music labels, there’s really not much new to the CNet story. Still, it adds more fuel to the fire that Zune’s days are numbered, to be replaced by similar, but rebranded services yet to be revealed. Xbox Live Music and Video, anyone?