In January, Sony announced that it would shut down its Music Unlimited service and replace it with a new service called PlayStation Music created in partnership with Spotify. It must have been a bittersweet moment for Sony, which–historically, at least–has liked to play up the fact that it’s both a hardware company and a producer and distributor of entertainment as a strategic advantage. But it’s tough to imagine that there were hordes of Music Unlimited fans who’d choose to keep it over a really good version of Spotify for the PlayStation.
Sony and Spotify recently gave me a preview of PlayStation Music, which is going live today, and it does indeed look like it might be a really good version of Spotify. It’s available on both the PS4 and PS3 and will also be released in versions for Sony’s Xperia phones and tablets.
PlayStation Music works with both free and paid Spotify accounts. If you don’t belong to Spotify already, you can sign up for an account on the PlayStation. If you do, your account gets linked to the console automatically when you open the app on your phone, with almost no intervention on your part.
You can launch PlayStation Music, browse around albums and playlists, and just listen, much as you would with any other flavor of Spotify. On PlayStation, however, playing music while inside a game is a common scenario. So you can control Spotify from a PlayStation controller without leaving a game, including adjusting the volume independently of the game. And wherever you are on the PlayStation, you can use the Spotify app on your phone as a music remote control.
It’s unusual for a streaming service to be tailored to the box it’s running on–Netflix, for instance, is pretty much Netflix almost everywhere–but this is a Spotify that feels both comfortably Spotify-esque and like it’s been customized for PlayStation. It’s at least a minor plus for PlayStation in its never-ending battle against Xbox, which offers Microsoft’s homegrown Xbox Music rather than the on-demand music service that’s practically synonymous with the category.