Steam Music Player Out Of Beta, Valve’s Soundtracks Free

In almost every strategy, management or sim game I play, I will immediately turn off the music which comes with the game in favour of my own. That means that Steam Music Player sounds like a good idea to me even if I long ago abandoned mp3s in favour of streaming. The built-in functionality, which lets you browse your music library and control playback from in-game using the Steam overlay, has just left beta after its initial announcement back in February.

To celebrate, Valve have made the soundtracks for some of their games freely available to those who own the associated games, including Half-Life, Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, Portal, Portal 2, and the Dota 2 documentary Free to Play.

Those base games are also 75% off until October 1st, on the off chance you don’t already own some of the best and most successful PC games of all time.

Valve are still looking for feedback on what features they should add to the service next on the Steam Music group. Given how bad iTunes is and how antiquated Winamp feels, it can’t hurt to have Valve doing something of their own.

Anyway. I’ll leave you with the only song you’ll ever need.

54 Comments

Top comments

  1. Anonymous says:

  1. Cinek says:

    Yes! Let’s make Steam even slower and add a music player!

    • Amatyr says:

      Quite. Since what a lot of people complain about with iTunes is it trying to do too much and Steam seems to be moving in the same direction. I don’t see why Steam needs to be a media player, it’s a games library.

      • Xzi says:

        Which would be valid complaints if this had slowed down my Steam client at all. It hasn’t.

    • Moo says:

      It could be a slow music player but I don’t think it has made steam slower. The slow parts of steam are the web browser stuff.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Upgrade that Pentium 4, friend.

    • thegooseking says:

      Having used it since it went open beta, I have to say it doesn’t make it any slower, and adds a grand total of about 10MB to Steam’s memory footprint. Say what else you like about it (the interface is certainly kind of crap), but it’s pretty efficient.

  2. Ice-Fyre says:

    I use musicbee and have it setup how I want, so this is pointless to me as I just put music on before starting a game. This just seems like extra bloat to steam.

  3. thedosbox says:

    Ashford & Simpson? Pah! If we’re going down the route of 80’s Soul, there are much better alternatives:

    Alexander O’Neal – Criticize
    link to youtube.com

    Shannon – Let the Music Play
    link to youtube.com

    Loose Ends – Hangin’ On a String
    link to youtube.com

    Loose Ends – Slow Down
    link to youtube.com

    Soul II Soul – Keep On Moving

  4. thedosbox says:

    Hmm, seems my post with some better 80’s alternatives to Ashford & Bloody Simpson was eaten, so this time without links.

    Alexander O’Neal – Criticize
    Shannon – Let the Music Play
    Loose Ends – Hangin’ on a string
    Loose Ends – Slow down
    Soul II Soul – Keep on Moving

  5. Arathorn says:

    Is this more convenient than having foobar play in the background and controlling that with the multimedia keys on my keyboard? This just sounds like more bloat to me. When are they going to add an espresso machine to it? I think I’d prefer that to a music player.

    • Jalan says:

      As clunky as it is currently and lacking in a lot of features that would make it useable to more than just the casual “hey, this seems cool” listener, it doesn’t beat foobar2000 + keyboard shortcuts.

      Added on to that they still want suggestions but in typical Valve fashion they give no indicator as to what areas they’re going to be focusing on for it so the next big update they make to it could be a year or more down the line for all we users know.

  6. melnificent says:

    So we can turn off the in game music to replace it with in game music.

  7. Moorkh says:

    Funny how DRM seems so much of an issue for you in games but then you see no problem in eschewing .mp3s in favour of streaming…

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      With streaming there’s no pretence that you’re buying the music.

      DRM-encumbered media claims to be sold to you, but then denies you the ability to exercise your normal rights to that media under the applicable law.

      • Synesthesia says:

        So you just have drm encumbered shit, that still does the same, but doesn’t tell you you bought it.

        I guess it’s honest, at least.

  8. melnificent says:

    Replace half-life 2 soundtrack with half-life 1…
    Wait a sec half-life 2+1=3

    Half-life 3 confirmed

    • spacedyemeerkat says:

      I am sure you’re a lovely man or woman.

      But damn, this meme needs to go away. It makes me froth and foam.

      Off to take my meds.

      • melnificent says:

        It’s the one and only time I’m ever going to do that meme. I just couldn’t resist.

  9. Distec says:

    As somebody who kept Valve soundtracks on a burned CD, minidisc, or MP3 player at any point in time over the last decade (along with Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, Tribes, and others), I really like this if only because it saves me having to extract from the Steam directory and hit up Soulseek.

    Who knows, this could even be a step for eventually allowing users to upload their own VG tunes. Im guessing most users would have no interest in such a feature, but I would be interested.

  10. Hydraulic Meerkat says:

    Seems to not want to play non-game music. Every time i try to create a new playlist it just creates a copy of one of the game soundtracks, and there’s no other visible way to import music. But i could be missing something. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    • Metr13 says:

      When you rightclick something and select “create new playlist”, it will create a new playlist from the thing you clicked at, unless you use the “new playlist” function while sorting by playlists.

      Or at least it seems so.

  11. DanMan says:

    “Solid as a…” what rhymes with rock?

    /SCNR

  12. SominiTheCommenter says:

    Too bad I can’t download the soundtracks without downloading the games they belong to. What’s the point then?

    • Jalan says:

      Indeed. The whole “soundtracks as DLC” mess just baffles. Of course there’s always the arduous process of copying everything over into a proper music library folder and then getting rid of games one may have finished or doesn’t feel like leaving on their HDD until they find a reason to go back to them but in the case of most of these, hopefully anyone already interested in the soundtracks has had them (in some form) for years now.

  13. Basil says:

    If my mp3 collection was physical it would be sadly collecting dust along with my ipod, miniDisc player and walkman. Just not worth the sync hassle compared to what I have on Spotify.

  14. Shuck says:

    It’s a bit of a mess. I’ve got something like 17 “different” soundtracks in my list for just one game. It’s only music from games I have currently installed. It’s only for a small number of the games I have installed – in my case, only 1 in 10 installed games (where presumably the publisher has soundtrack rights for the music – so not games like Hotline Miami, for example), and only one of those games didn’t already have a distinct soundtrack that I got when I bought the game. (But many games with distinct soundtracks don’t show up in the list, either.) Pretty darn useless and unnecessary client bloat, really.

    • joshg says:

      Let me guess, The Basement Collection? Just looking at the music list finally drove me to uninstalling it.

      • Jalan says:

        The music tracks thrown in on that one are an example of how not to do free soundtrack inclusion – most of the files are untagged entirely and the disorganization of them is outright shameful.

      • Shuck says:

        Yeah, that’s the one. Kentucky Route Zero accounts for another three “albums,” but that at least makes sense, as they add an album for each act. If I uninstall those two games, my Steam music list pretty much disappears, despite having over forty games installed, currently (at least a half-dozen of which I actually have the soundtracks for – just not through this).

    • Juan Carlo says:

      It’s a total mess.

      I imported my entire music collection, and some albums it reads the album artist, while others it reads the song artists. There’s a huge difference. Reading the song artist means that your soundtrack or collaborative albums will be split into 100 different artists and combos of artists, which is really fucking annoying.

      I’m not even sure if steam is reading the metadata from the Mp3s, or if it’s pulling it from somewhere else.

      Plus, I don’t see a function to import existing playlists. I have like 6,000+ song playlists that I’ve painstakingly made, and don’t fancy the idea of doing it again. I’d rather just have my normal music player in the background and alt tab if I need to. So far, it’s not worth the hassle just to have the music in your steam overlay.

  15. pfooti says:

    Do people still really use mp3 files? I mean, that strikes me as fairly 2002. Build an interface in the steam overlay to spotify, pandora, and my personal service: google play music all access i’m feeling lucky radio.

    • MartinWisse says:

      I do. Well over 50,000 in my library at the moment.

      • Distec says:

        m8 u gotta get FLAC

        • Jalan says:

          Not sure if serious…

          Almost the entirety of my library is in a format not presently supported by the likes of Steam Music (or even Spotify) for that matter and given that it happens to be one of the oldest formats available the fact that it isn’t supported is a point of frustration. Over the span of 8 years I’ve undergone 3 major audio format changes for my music library, with the last (current) one being the one where I drew the line at being finally happy with where it was. I’d rather slam my head in a car door repeatedly than have to re-encode thousands of files back to a format I left behind just to make use of something that apparently didn’t get the message that it’s 2014, not 2000.

    • fish99 says:

      About half my playlist isn’t on those services, so yes I still use MP3s. Also what use is streaming when I’m out jogging with my MP3 player which has no internet connection? (sorry but I don’t want a big heavy smart phone on me while jogging) I can also do without having my music listenning ruined by ads and excessive audio compression.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Yes to Mp3s. It’s way too hard to build up a cumulative collection with streaming services. I have over 15,000 songs (all in album form) that I’ve accumulated over the years. Hitting random play all is like listening to a soundtrack to my life, as I associate different albums with different times in my life. Random play all is pretty much the best thing ever, as it kind of reminds me of older albums I used to love, but have forgotten about.

      You just can’t track the cumulative history of your music tastes with streaming services in the same way that you can with MP3s as rights disappear or reappear on those services, and it’s a bitch to make playlists. If you really like an album, for example, who is to say it will still be there tomorrow? Mp3 is the only way to be certain.

      Plus, like others have said, it’s much more convenient to have the mp3s so you can use them without being connected to the internet.

      Streaming services are for people who aren’t really into music. Sounds harsh and elitist, but it’s true. All the people I know who are super into music either use MP3, CD, or Vinyl. Everyone who just casually listens tends to stream. That might be changing with younger generations, but still……that doesn’t change any of the problems with streaming (i.e. need access to internet, rights come and go, difficult to keep tabs on albums you really love, or even just albums you kind of liked and associate with a period in your life, in the same way).

    • SuicideKing says:

      Well, since most of the people I know use mp3 files for music, you may be in a minority.

    • Niko says:

      Are you a person from the future where there are always-connected tiny music players that you can use anywhere because the Internet is ubiquitous?

  16. joshg says:

    Treating music as strictly DLC kind of kills this for me. I don’t have Portal 2 installed right now, I’ve put tons of hours into it and needed to free up space on the laptop, but would love to listen to the soundtrack while I do other things. I can’t even download the soundtrack without reinstalling the whole game, as far as I can tell.

    • Moorkh says:

      I have Portal 2 installed and its soundtrack is not available. Maybe Graham was just mistaken?

    • Jalan says:

      The Portal 2 soundtrack has been available at link to thinkwithportals.com for some time now, completely free of charge (they also put it out on CD alongside a disc of tracks from the first game, for those who like that sort of thing).

      • SuicideKing says:

        That’s like, the first thing I thought. I’ve had the soundtrack ever since Portal 2 came out. Even used to have the Portal ringtones.

  17. racccoon says:

    Steam plot to get into the music business!
    As if we all don’t have other ways of listening to music
    The idea it seems is redundant
    WE KNOW HOW TO LISTEN TO MUSIC ALREADY……… STEAM!

    Just stay the cumbersome game launcher useless tool that you are!
    Monopolising STEAM’s main game through & through. There are far to many dumb fucks out there who go for this crap. next U2 will be on STEAM for free + another 100 million ! lol
    .

  18. dangermouse76 says:

    For me the music player needs to work a lot more like winamp for searching for music….or I could just use winamp I suppose.
    Either way having huge long list of 22,500 tracks and a very rudimentary way to search it makes it hard to use. If they want to be an all in one media type thing they need better search and display options for the music.

  19. aerozol says:

    This makes me excited because I’d love to have SteamOS hooked up in the living room, and be able to stream everything off my ‘office’ computer without using other software. And can anyone really think this isn’t a step towards Spotify (and co) integration in future? Steam’s not stupid. Although they can be slow about it… I totally understand annoyance at bloat though, but I assume if Steam has their eye set on a one-stop console type of thing in future you can brace for lots more of that.
    Anyway, just thought I’d mention my user case, as everyone seems to be in a “this isn’t useful to me specifically so it must be stupid” mood ; )

    • Jalan says:

      You’re still going to be using other software for your music needs anyway, unless you purchase everything digitally and it comes to you exactly as you prefer. Steam has no means of ripping a CD, no means of encoding to (format of choice), etc. It may at some point in the future, but since it’s Valve we’re talking about that future could be 10+ years from now, if ever.

      I personally haven’t seen many iterating that it’s a stupid move, more that existing software (on each major OS) has been able to accomplish the same thing and much more and there’s no reason right now for any of those users to make the big leap to Steam Music alone.

      • aerozol says:

        I’ve never ripped a CD with Foobar, my music player, so not sure why that’s relevant?

  20. fish99 says:

    Does it even show you which soundtracks you own? It’s just coming up with a blank list, but I’m pretty sure I bought the Bastion soundrack. If you need the game installed, that’s pretty stupid.

    You know it this helps sell soundtracks I’m all for it since video game composers don’t have good avenues for selling their music right now (most people are too lazy to google or look on bandcamp).

    • Jalan says:

      The way any soundtracks on Steam work is that the game itself must be downloaded and the soundtrack (treated as a separate piece of DLC in most cases) must be owned. Otherwise you’ll need to take the soundtrack files and port them into your proper music library folder if you want to listen without having dozens of games you may have already finished or have no intention on going back to at the present installed.

  21. SuicideKing says:

    I think this is good for an HTPC use case, always wished that Windows Media Centre supported the Xbox 360 controller for navigation anyway.

    I don’t see any negatives to Steam supporting music so I’m not complaining.

  22. SomeDuder says:

    Excellent! Now we just need a feature where we can use it as a phone, shop online for furniture, scan my drives for Extreme Windows Speed Fixes® and an OKC alternative.

    OT: Goddamnit Steam, I just use you to buy and play videogames, you were just fine for that.

    • Jalan says:

      The Curator thing seems like the ominous harbinger of more Twitter-ized junk to come. While I’m not going to say the feature has no merit at all, it has – much like the tag system before it – fallen victim to a lot of unfunny bullplop (the Is It POSTAL? Curator page, started by a guy who is a developer no less, springs to mind) and other ridiculous things (users who think making racist remarks that get seen by millions is a surefire punchline or campaigning about male/female bashing or whatever non-issue has been perpetrated these last few months, to name a few).

      (And it did post in multiples – damn you, RPS server! Thank heaven someone has a sense of humour and plastered one of them in the big red box of shame so I can forever kick myself for submitting that many times)

  23. Enkinan says:

    I’m guessing this is geared to Steam Boxes, most notably the about to be released “almost” Steam Box Alienware Alpha. If you boot straight in to the Steam mode you cannot swap to Windows, so this may cut down on some gripes.

    Not sure why you wouldn’t just boot to the Windows side and use xmodder, but whatever.