How Groove Music Rivals MusicBee as the Best Desktop Music Player for Windows
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Groove Music is the default music app on Windows 10. It’s the latest in a long line of Microsoft’s attempts to break into the music streaming market, with a library of more than 38 million songs for Groove Music Pass subscribers. More importantly, Groove Music has some great tools for managing and listening to your locally-saved music libraries.

The feature list has grown substantially since Microsoft rebranded Xbox Music as Groove Music back in 2015. Today, it’s not as bad as you might think.

In this article, I’m going to introduce you to some of Groove’s most exciting features and compare the app with the much-vaunted MusicBee as I go.

1. Simplicity

Lots of users criticize Groove Music for its simplicity. At first glance, it’s easy to see why. The app looks dull; in the left-hand column, you’ll see your music library and your playlists. In the main panel, you’ll find track and album details.

groove music layout

People who use MusicBee, or one of the other best music players for Windows The 5 Best Free Music Players for Windows The 5 Best Free Music Players for Windows Downloading music still has its benefits. For one, you can play music even when you don't have internet access. But which music player should you use? Find the best free music players here. Read More , will decry the lack of options. It’s fair enough, but for lots of listeners, simplicity is a desirable attribute.

Many people find themselves overawed by MusicBee’s endless tagging options, third-party themes, customizable displays, community plugins, and so on. They just want to be able to find their songs and listen to them. If you’re one of those people, there is no need for you to download a third-party app. Groove will fulfill all your requirements.

2. Web Player

One of the biggest drawbacks of MusicBee and other desktop music players is their inability to stream your cloud-based music. Conversely, Google Play Music lets you upload 50,000 of your own songs so you can listen when you’re away from home, but it doesn’t have a desktop player.

Groove Music offers the best of both worlds, giving you a seamless integration between the two formats. You can upload as many songs as you want to your OneDrive account (until you hit your storage limit), and once you’ve uploaded them, you can open the Groove Music Web Player on any device and your songs will be available.

To upload songs, open the web app and go to Collection > Add Your MP3s to OneDrive.

groove music add to onedrive

The app will create a new Music folder in your cloud account. Upload your music into the new folder.

onedrive music folder

The design of the web app and the desktop app are almost identical, meaning there’s no jarring experience if you frequently switch between the two. It’s a design principle Spotify users will appreciate after the company’s disastrous update to its web player Everything Wrong With the New Spotify Web Player Everything Wrong With the New Spotify Web Player Did you know Spotify has now given its Web Player a makeover? Well, we say "upgrade," but this feels more like a downgrade. Here's why. Read More in early 2017.

3. Automatic Metadata

As I mentioned earlier, Groove Music does not have a tool that lets you add album artwork to your tracks.

It does have a way to change basic metadata (right-click on song > Edit Info), but it’ll only let you change the song title, artist name, album title, track number, disc number, genre, and year.

groove music edit metadata

Compare that with MusicBee, which has six tabs packed with metadata options, including lyrics, custom tags, album artwork, and artist images.

musicbee edit metadata

However, just because Groove Music doesn’t let you add your own artwork, don’t worry. The app can automatically find and download artwork and missing metadata tags. It will even embed the downloaded imagery into the music file. It’ll be available on other players if you migrate to an alternative app in the future.

If your collection is extremely niche, you might find Groove makes errors and downloads incorrect data. To turn off the automatic metadata, head to Settings > Media Info > Automatically Retrieve and Update Missing Album Art And Metadata.

groove music turn off metadata

4. Cross Platform Compatibility

MusicBee has a portable music player you can keep on a USB drive, but there is no officially-supported version for Android or iOS.

Groove Music has an app for both platforms. Like with the web player, any songs you’ve uploaded to OneDrive will be available. If you’re a Groove Music Pass subscriber, you’ll also be able to access the service’s library of songs.

groove app android

Critics attacked the two apps when they first became available, but over the last year Microsoft has added more features and they’ve become significantly more stable.

Now the pairs of apps not only give Groove an advantage over MusicBee and other desktop apps, but they are also starting to become a viable alternative for more established streaming services such as Spotify Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Amazon Music Unlimited: Which Is Best? Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Amazon Music Unlimited: Which Is Best? With the introduction of Amazon Music Unlimited, this is a great time to subscribe to a music streaming services. In this article, we'll examine how Amazon's service compares to Spotify and Apple Music. Read More .

5. Music Discovery

It’s true that Groove’s music discovery tools 5 Ways to Discover New Music Without Being Overwhelmed 5 Ways to Discover New Music Without Being Overwhelmed How do you discover new music? These five easy tools will help you find new songs and fresh albums without feeling overwhelmed. Read More cannot yet compete with Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Release Radar, but it does have some discovery tools — unlike MusicBee.

You can split the tools into two sections, the discovery within the app and discovery on the Windows Store.

Within the app, you’ll find recommended playlists from “Groove Editors”. The more music you listen to, the more these will be refined. Groove can use data from both your personal music collection and your Groove Pass subscription to curate the lists.

groove music playlists

If you want to buy content outright, you need to go to the Window Store. It’ll offer you recommendation based on your listening history. At certain times of the year, you’ll also find themed music. Any content you buy will automatically become available in the Groove Music app.

windows store music

Groove Music or MusicBee?

I love MusicBee. I’ve used it for a long time. This article is not supposed to criticize the app nor is it written to try and convince you to abandon the app altogether.

My opinion? You should use the two apps in tandem. Rely on MusicBee as your day-to-day desktop music player, but let Groove continually monitor your library so it stays updated. That way, you can enjoy Groove’s best features when you need them.

Have I convinced you to give Groove Music a chance? What do you like and dislike about Microsoft’s native music app? You can leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

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  1. NEXTuga
    September 24, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    The lack of any kind of rating system plus the fact that mobile and web apps don't have a way to remove the Groove Music Pass options make the Groove in general, not an option, otherwise will be awesome.

  2. Jim G
    May 15, 2017 at 2:31 am

    Dan, I agree-- MusicBee has so many customizations presented at the same levels that it can overwhelm a new user. You make Groove sound tempting. Question:

    1- do you know if Groove can create its library and sync with removable storage, such as microSD cards? (MusicBee struggled/failed that test for me on an NTFS card on my Surface.)
    2- do you know if Groove plays well with mp3 player devices, such as iPod Shuffle? (iTunes is so bloated. And MediaMonkey, which will populate iPods, SanDisk, etc., is like MusicBee times 7 -- "becoming all things, to fewer people.")

  3. Jim G
    May 15, 2017 at 2:20 am

    Dan, I agree MusicBee has a few too many customizations for me. You make Groove sound tempting.

    1- do you know if Groove will readily create its library and sync with files stored on removable storage, such as microSD? MusicBee struggled (ie, failed) syncing with my NTFS formatted SDXC card on Surface.
    2- do you know how well Groove plays with mp3 player devices, like say an iPod Shuffle? (I hate iTunes bloat. And Media Monkey, which works with iTunes, is also becoming "all things, to fewer people.")

  4. Fred Barker
    April 6, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    If, like me you have 1000's of tracks collected over decades, you need Auto Playlists in oder to be able to manage the music library.
    The most important to me would be to select "Last Played is not in the last 60 days" (for example), otherwise you may repeatedly hear the same track over and over.
    Also you need some sort of volume levelling function to ensure a mix of tracks is played at a similar volume level, otherwise increasing the volume while listening to a low level volume track, you could blast your ears with the next track if several DB louder, at least when using headphones.
    Until the likes of Grove music and Google music adopt these functions, for me they look great, but are useless.
    Take my advice and stick with MusicBeee!
    Cheers, Fred

  5. ReadandShare
    March 31, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    I listen to music from different parts of the world and sometimes want to add lyrics as well as translations. Most apps either don't incorporate lyrics or only allow for web downloads. One that lets you add lyrics manually is MediaMonkey. It's a bit on the heavy side, but it does everything I want it to do - except for one: it does NOT allow per-song equalizer settings. A real shame, because iTunes could do that way back in the '90's!!

  6. Ratindra
    March 31, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Groove is not available on the web in every country. It is US only.
    Musicbee is awesome for desktop and on phone you can use Groove , this is how I prefer.