How to Listen to Music on Xbox One

Second put aside your ideas of what an Xbox One could be. Try not to think about the Xbox One Wireless Controller or Chat Headset that comes with every system. Instead, focus on the box right under your TV and what it can do. It can connect you to your friends and surf the internet. Apps allow you to optionally add new functionality. Xbox One is a computer, a gaming computer, but still a computer. We play games and chat with friends using our computers. We also listen to music on our computers, a task Xbox One can do. Yes, you can listen to music on Xbox One.

Depending on your expectations, the experience can be a bit overwhelming. Downloadable apps form the basis of the Xbox One’s music playback capabilities. In some cases, you will need external storage or a subscription music service to listen to music on Xbox One. Some solutions lower the internet requirement but require you to have an external device plugged into your Xbox One.

Here’s how to listen to music on Xbox One.

Before You Begin

Before we get started, it’s important that you understand the audio limitations on Xbox One today. Microsoft released the Xbox One in 2013 and promised to explore whether to add support for background audio playback later on. That’s right, currently Xbox One does not allow you to transfer or play music stored on an external drive in the background.

Instead, listening to music on Xbox One requires you to take advantage of the console’s Snap feature. Since its launch, Xbox One has allowed users to place apps next to their screens. Capturing an app lets you watch TV and play video games at the same time. It also lets you play video games and listen to music, provided there is an app for your streaming service in the Xbox Store.

Xbox One owners have been complaining that the Xbox One hasn’t supported background audio playback for a very, very long time. Microsoft has publicly said that it takes time to properly implement background audio.

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How to Stream Music on Xbox One – Streaming Services

Many service providers work directly with Microsoft to create versions of their services that support the Xbox One and the features that set it apart (like Snap multitasking). The Xbox Store is full of them. Download one of these apps and then stick them to the edge of your screen to listen to music on your Xbox One. Each also has a full-screen mode. Some are ad-supported. Others require you to sign up for a streaming subscription service.

Groove Music

Groove Music is Microsoft’s own subscription streaming service. Groove, once called Xbox Music, costs $9.99 per month and lets you stream content from Microsoft’s service directly to your Xbox One, iPhone, Android, or Windows device. If you upload the MP3s to Microsoft’s OneDrive, you can transfer that music to the console for free.

Truly, the premium Xbox One experience is the only big reason to subscribe to Groove at this point. It also replaces songs in places that have music videos by default. This is great when you just want to listen to music. Turn off automatic music video playback while playing games.


iHeartRadio lets you sync your custom-made playlists from its companion apps on iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone. iHeartRadio also has a large collection of live radio stations from around the country. The service is completely free on Xbox One.


Pandora is the same streaming playlist provider from smartphones. It works as you would expect on Xbox One and lets you stream smoothly from service stations.


TuneIn gives Xbox One owners access to live terrestrial radio stations, excluding stations that iHeartRadio currently has access to. Signing in allows users to access stations from their profile or save frequently listened stations.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is the web browser that Microsoft allows users to install on Xbox One from the Xbox Store. It replaces Internet Explorer in the new Xbox One Experience. Edge is worth mentioning here as it provides access to some music sources that don’t have an app on Xbox One. For example, public radio stations excluded from TuneIn. You can also play SoundCloud content through it.

All these services are great for anyone who has an internet connection and doesn’t mind streaming from the libraries of big companies.

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How to Stream Music on Xbox One – Local Content

Things get a little more complicated for listening to music on the Xbox One you already own. Microsoft allows users to add external storage to Xbox One. There are apps that can talk to this storage and let you play media, but for some reason you can’t do anything like store your music on the Xbox One.

media player

Media Player is Microsoft’s app for content you already own.

If you have your entire music collection on your Windows computers and DLNA is turned on, you will see all your music and media on your computer within this application. Then you can choose what you want to play. It also supports external storage, allowing you to “keep” content on your console.


Plex is a media application that connects to Plex Media Server. Essentially, Plex does the same thing that DLNA technology does, giving you access to content you have in apps for your devices. Plex takes media to a new level and lets you share that content with other Xbox One owners. You need to sign up for Plex online. You can upgrade to some of their premium services called Plex Pass for extra features.

CD player

Finally, there’s CD Player, as the name suggests: an app that lets the Xbox One play compact discs.

Note that these options require you to download an app from the Xbox Store. Hopefully Microsoft provides background audio playback in the very near future. Xbox One’s Wireless Controllers have a headphone jack that works with all of these different apps.