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Streaming media has become big business in the past few years, with YouTube, Hulu and BBC iPlayer all great examples of how the web has changed the way we enjoy music, TV and film.
Many of these new companies have rode the back of the founders of the Internet age, companies such as AOL, Microsoft and Apple, the latter of course having made a massive success out of their music services.
So where does this leave the “old enemy”, Microsoft? Recently they have launched Bing Music in an attempt to bring their own take on the Google Videos search (which often takes the user to YouTube). But is it any good?
What Is Bing Music?
Available at Bing Music, the service is an ad-supported collection of videos recorded by the MSN channel or NBC, featuring a large number of exclusive live performances and interviews with contemporary musicians.
Those of you that use the MSN.com website will know that there is a lot of exclusive content produced, that is delivered to website viewers on video, alongside the standard text-based features.
Bing Music is essentially a collection of music features organised so that users can easily find and enjoy the content. Alongside these you will find fun amateur videos of people performing cover versions of songs by the selected artist, giving an interesting new spin to the core content.
How Can I Enjoy It?
By visiting the website you will find a collection of videos grouped alphabetically by artist. However, you should note that only “popular” artists – or those featured previously on MSN.com – can be viewed.
Finding something to watch and listen to is pretty easy. Simply choose the artist, review the available videos and click the one you want to view.
Videos can be viewed in full-screen mode, while various enhancements are available such as increasing the size of the player and darkening the rest of the browser window. You’re also able to share the video clips on social media services.
Adverts, Adverts, Adverts
One downside to enjoying videos online is the presence of adverts, and the problem is no different on Bing Music.
Unlike the banner adverts in the video footers on YouTube, however, Bing Music offers that other Google staple, commercials run before the actual video clip starts. They’re irritating, and sadly they’re not in any way, shape or form contextual, so if they’re irrelevant, it’s tough – you can’t skip them.
Rather, you will find that the adverts that are played are sponsorships, with banners for the same products as those advertised appearing listed below the video clip index.
Fire & Forget Playback
One good quality of Bing Music and the general Bing Video service is the fact that you don’t have to keep pressing play to enjoy a clip. While YouTube might allow the visitor to add clips to a playback session in advance, Bing Music simply plays the next video in that channel. For instance, you might be watching a clip about Beyonce Knowles, but have left the room when it ends. Rather than stop, the Bing Music service will simply play the next clip.
This can prove both useful and annoying, depending on your mood. If you’re looking for something to run in the background, while you surf the web or write, it is certainly worth trying.
Where’s All the (Bing) Music?
There is one glaring omission from Bing Music, and that’s the tunes.
While there are live performances and shows from a handful of the listed artists, the vast majority of clips are about music, rather than actual tunes. Discussions about ticket sales, album art design, the shape of the music industry etc. are all fascinating and have their place, but they’re not three minute pop songs designed to entertain and sing along to. This situation needs some development!
Essentially, Bing Music is more about music and entertainment news than it is about the music.
Although a useful service, you’ll probably find very similar content elsewhere, such as YouTube. Until some actual music can be added to Bing Music, it won’t be a first stop for the vast majority of users. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.