Automatically Sync New Music To Windows Phones

I think there are two points of view on syncing music with portable media players. One point of view is to have a media player with large enough storage to contain an entire music library. Syncing an entire music library means you can always have all of your music with you, and more importantly, you don’t need to do much about syncing the music beyond the initial set up, and this is how I use the Zune HD.

Another point of view is storing a portion of a music library, which is typically how you have to configure smartphones because they usually don’t have enough storage to contain an entire music library, and this is how I have configured my HD7 to sync with my Zune music library. If I cannot carry my entire library with me, I then like to frequently refresh the music on the smartphone so that there is a variety of new music on the phone.

The Zune desktop software, combined with Smart DJ playlists and a Zune Pass make it very easy to always have fresh music on your phone. Smart DJ playlists are built automatically based on an artist that you select in the Zune Marketplace. When you open an album in the Marketplace you usually see the Smart DJ playlist icon on the album page. The playist contains tracks from the selected artist and tracks by similar artists. If you right-click the Smart DJ playlist icon you can click Add To Playlist, which adds the Smart DJ Playist to your music collection playlists.

You can edit Smart DJ playists in your collection, as you can see the above screenshot, to include music in your local music collection, combine music from your collection and the Marketplace, or only use music from the Marketplace. If you have a Zune Pass, I recommend selecting Marketplace Music Only, which means that every five days or so Zune will refresh the playlist with new music that you don’t already have and that is a great way to discover new music. You can configure how many songs are in the playlist as well as how often the playlist refreshes.

The final step is to sync the Smart DJ playist to the phone, which is as simple as dragging and dropping the playlist onto the phone icon while the phone is connected to the PC. All of the music in the Smart DJ playist will sync to the phone, and every time the playlist refreshes on the desktop and you then sync the phone with the desktop, the playlist will refresh on the phone, with old music being replaced by new music.

Unfortunately, Windows Phone does not currently directly synchronize with the Zune Marketplace, instead you have to synchronize the phone with a PC. You can, however configure the phone to wirelessly sync with the PC if both PC and phone are connected to the same home network. The phone needs to be plugged in to power, and the PC needs to be on in order for the synchronization to work.

I think the direct update of Zune Smart DJ playlists for Zune Pass subscribers is a killer feature that Microsoft ought to add in the future to Windows Phone. For now, however, I am very happy with the ability to simply sync new music based on my favorite musicians to my Windows Phone without requiring much work to maintain those playlists.