Zune or Comes with Music – Music services for Nokia’s upcoming devices.

| March 15, 2011 | 6 Replies

We all know the story of Nokia Comes with Music. You buy a participating device with a somewhat higher cost than the norm and Nokia gives you unlimited access and downloads to their DRM laced music catalog. Of course, the presence of DRM was somewhat necessary due to the unlimited nature of the service and to prevent mass dissemination and sharing of tracks between non-paying individuals.

Sadly with Comes with Music you were more or less limited to one computer and one mobile device without having to contact Nokia’s customer service representatives. Then of course there’s a limit to the length of the unlimited download service. Luckily though, access to the songs downloaded this period is NOT terminated after the service period is over (the usual service period was 12 or 18 months.) Tracks could be bought (no DRM) or downloaded using the device if it was “compatible” via a web-based Ovi Music service (the interface was far from fun btw.) In any case, you were allowed nigh-on unlimited downloads of DRM-ed music via your PC or web-connected device without being cut off from your songs when the period was over.


1. Pay a premium

2. Download as many song as you want with DRM protections

3. Keep the DRM protected songs, unfortunately it’ll be cumbersome to switch these songs to new devices.

Zune on the other hand runs as a subscription-based with payments on the order of US $14.99 a month or about $150.00 a year. This is more than slightly expensive to say the least and much like Nokia’s Comes with Music gives you access to unlimited downloads of DRM-laced music. Unfortunately, access to this music is contingent upon the presence of an ongoing subscription to Zune, a “Zune-Pass” so to speak. No subscription, no music, no matter how much you downloaded or how much you beg. There is a massive upside to this of course.

The average price of a digital song purchase be it via iTunes or even the Zune or Ovi Music ranges between US$0.79 and US$1.29 depending on the song’s popularity and/or age. The Zune Pass allows you to lay claim to, on a permanent basis, 10 DRM-free tracks per month. These songs most certainly can be kept regardless of the continuation of your subscription service. What makes the service somewhat better is the ability to stream songs on device or on the PC of your choice.

The fact that Zune is a Microsoft service also means that Zune is accessible via your Xbox360 if you happen to have one and your music can be played back over your stereo or home entertainment center. Streaming is also available on Windows Phone devices and PC’s as one would expect. Unlike other streaming services, it allows you to choose the songs you want to playback, although a radio-esque feature wouldn’t be a bad idea in the future.

Your Zune Pass can be transferred to and used on as many as 3 different computers and 3 Windows Phone devices


1. Pay a month, tri-monthly or yearly fee of US$14.99, US$44.97 or US$149.90.

2. Download as much music as you want, music is only accessible while you have a subscription #fail

3. 10 DRM-free songs per month of subscription you’ve paid for. #win
You have to  use ’em before the end of  each monthly cycle or they’re gone. #fail

4. 3 computers, 3 Windows Phones or Zune players to play back you music on.


All in all, it’s a bit of a pick your poison type of situation but we can’t help but think that Nokia will be bundling their Windows Phone devices with a year or so worth of Zune Pass just to sweeten the deal a bit. It is possible though that by the time those devices are out, Microsoft’s Ventura platform might be up and running.

In any case Microsoft’s decision to kill off the Zune hardware division was not likely taken easily and probably has a lot to do with Microsoft’s belief that their Zune service will be getting a lot of traction outside of their own hardware. Odds are, the relationship between Nokia and Microsoft goes a fair bit further than most people realize or acknowledge and could prove to be a much more important step than many give them credit for.


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Category: Nokia

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