It is worth noting that while the app integrates itself with the Zune player, Nokia Music is still a separate app. So expect to see the splash screen each time you launch it. Still as it a Windows Phone 7.5 Mango-compatible app, you can easily switch to it quickly via fast application switching method.
Once inside Nokia Music you can easily listen to your music files, buy mp3 files or check for gigs nearest to you. Tapping on a gig listing will bring up details of the gig itself, as well as direct shortcuts to purchase tickets. Gigs can be pinned as a live tile, as well as viewed on the Bing Map.
However more importantly with the new Nokia Music brings the aforementioned offline mode. To download a mix for offline listening, simply tap on a genre and look for a mix you want. Once a mix has been chosen, tap it to play or hold down to make it available offline.
As there are 100+ mixes to choose over ten genres, with each mixes holding roughly 20-30 tracks, there's plenty of music to be discovered here. Mixes are also regularly updated, which can be refreshed from the offline menu. All mixes, downloaded or otherwise, can be pinned as a live tile. Sadly only four mixes can be downloaded for offline listening at any one time.
You can also create custom mixes. By searching for a favourite artist, Nokia Music will create a custom playlist of music that matches the one of your favourite artists. This is similar to the Last.fm similar artists radio mode, and works just as well. Unfortunately custom mixes can not be made available offline.
There are however a couple of downsides. The most obvious is you can only skip up to six tracks per hour. This is a limitation that, I presume, has been imposed by the record labels. While Nokia Music doesn't provide the user with the same freedom as Spotify does, but it is hard to argue when you do not have a monthly subscription to pay to listen on your mobile. I also wish that it would support custom search for gigs, for example in a different city or date rather than just the one closest to you. I would also like to see last.fm integrated not only with Nokia Music, but the Zune player so I can scrobble my plays.
After just a day with the new Nokia Music, I am finding it indispensable for music discovery on the go. Offline mode is a highly useful feature as not everyone has access to fast 3G Internet all the time, especially here in London where network congestion are frequent. Is it worth buying a Lumia just for Nokia Music? Perhaps not. But if you are going to get one anyway, Nokia Music is one of the few invaluable apps you can find bundled in any smartphone right now.
Nokia Music with offline Mix Radio should be available as a Marketplace update for the new Nokia Lumia 800 now.