I’ve only had it for a week and already the Zunepass has changed the way I listen to music. I was in a rut with my music collection. It was expansive but really, really stagnant. I hadn’t found any good bands in quite a while using my Emusic subscription and I was in a musical funk. As a matter of fact, I dreaded logging into Emusic and doing the “work” it took to find something worthwhile among the obscure bands on their roster. To make matters worse, as I live in Prague, I had to log in via a sluggish, kludgy VPN connection in order to fool the service and make it think that I was logging in from somewhere in the US. The final straw that broke the camel’s back on Emusic they raised the monthly charge and lowered the number of credits. I just hated the hassle of going into the virtual store and not finding anything worth getting. So, I made the switch.
But a bad user experience with Emusic alone doesn’t make Zunepass worth the switch – the Zunepass does that all itself. And the lynchpin between a “cool” experience and an “unfriggin’believable” one was the ability to use it in the living room. So, earlier this week I fired up a copy of the Zune desktop software and marketplace on the living room media center PC. This is an 8 year old PC, running Vista and the Zune software ran like butter. The only hiccup was changing some of the more graphics intensive transitions to a lower setting in the “settings” tab. After that was sorted out, I just enjoyed my newly downloaded collection pieces.
The real plus of the Zunepass for a music freak like me is the ease in which it helps you make true music discoveries. I haven’t heard this much new music since my older brother came home for Christmas after his first semester away at college. When he returned, he had a boatload of newly dubbed cassettes in his suitcase with names like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division, and Hoodoo Gurus. My world was forever rocked and my tastes took a wild turn. No, I didn’t like everything I heard but I listened. The Zunepass does the same thing. There’s no more, “Yeah, I’ve heard of ’em but never actually heard ’em.” With this chunk of code on my computer, I go to the marketplace, download it, listen and, if I like it, I keep it. Actually, I just “keep” the rental as long as I’m subscribed. But looking back on some of the albums in my collection, I think that’s just fine. I mean, did I really need all of the stuff I downloaded in the heyday of Napster? (The Vines, anyone?)
It’ll be interesting to see how things progress as the novelty wears off. I have a feeling that for fact that there are always new possibilities, it’ll take awhile for that to happen. I’ll let you know…