With the number of music streaming services growing ever larger, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to decide which one is best suited to you. We’ve touched on a few key 3rd-party players in the past like Spotify and Bloom, and today, we’re taking a look at an in-house app produced by Sony.
If you own an Xperia smartphone or tablet you might have already noticed that the Music Unlimited app comes as part of the out-of-box experience, but in truth there are plenty of connected devices that support the service including Android and iOS devices, Sony WALKMANs, Blu-ray players, home theatre systems, BRAVIA TVs, the PlayStation 3, the PS Portable and PS Vita, not to mention a web player.
Sony really has put a lot of time into making Music Unlimited a multi-platform experience.
The app itself requires a Sony Entertainment Network account to begin with – something you’ll likely already have if you use other Sony products and if not, the set up process can be done from within the app. Once you’ve got that you can get into the meat of Music Unlimited itself.
The focus of the app appears to be music discovery, with the homescreen dedicated to new releases, top songs and suggested tunes. Handy when considering that the full Music Unlimited library currently stands at around 20 million tracks, a pretty big library of tunes to go about browsing manually.
A swipe to the right reveals the app’s full set of tools, with a manual search option at the top letting you filter by artist, album or song. The Channels page features a number of tabs along the bottom which filter content by predefined genres, moods and eras.
There’s also a dedicated channel page for premium users and a custom page for personally searched channels, offering a Last.fm-style experience based on artists you like. Each channel then serves up tunes collated to your taste, proving more accurate the more we used the service.
The next option down the list, the Browse feature filters the full Music Unlimited library by genre and in-turn lets you see each genre sub-categorised by Top Artists, Top Albums and Top Songs.
Once you start listening to tracks you can begin to add them to your library. The music playback screen features a clear UI with cover art, options to jump to other songs from the track’s album or artist, share track info in a myriad of ways and again, reinforcing the music discovery aspect, view related tracks.
The two heart icons, which appear on tracks not yet in your library, let you ‘teach’ the app what you like and dislike, altering the suggested tracks it picks for you as you browse the broader music catalogue; a simple, elegant system to refine the discovery experience yet further.
Tracks or albums you like as well as playlists you’ve made are stored in the My Library tab again with options to filter by Artists, Albums, Songs and Playlists, but the best part is that local storage permitting, you can set any of your saved items to be stored for offline use.
The Sony Music Unlimited app offers a fantastic service for those looking to discover new musical talent. The library is large and broad, meaning you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the song or artist you want; new or old. It might help if you’ve already invested in the Sony ecosystem but it’s not essential, and the biggest hook is the price.
Users who want to get the full Premium experience complete with mobile device playback, 320kbps AAC audio file streaming and offline storage can pay the same as Spotify users on a rolling monthly contract at £9.99, but if you’re prepared to commit to a year, you can pay half as much up-front at just £59, which makes the Sony Music Unlimited experience a seriously compelling prospect.