If you’re familiar with Windows Phone and Windows 8, you know that the music apps on those platforms provide a way to “pin” favorite artists, albums, songs, and other items to the Start screen. But you may not know that the Music app on the Xbox 360 provides this same functionality. Here’s how it works.

First, you pretty much need to have a Zune Music Pass, which provides nearly unfettered access to Microsoft’s 20+ million song collection in the cloud. Zune Music Pass is $9.99 per month (or $99 a year), and it works with Windows-based PCs and devices, the Xbox 360, Windows Phone handsets, Zune devices, and the web.

And as is so often the case with Xbox-based entertainment services, you will also need an Xbox LIVE Gold account. This subscription costs $60 per year.

OK, let's get started.

From the Xbox 360 Dashboard, navigate to the Music experience. You can do this is by selecting Music from the main menu pivot at the top of the screen.

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Then, from the Music experience, select My Music Apps, and then Zune Music. (The name of this app will be changing to Xbox Music in a future Dashboard update.) Or, just select Music Marketplace.

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From the Zune Marketplace screen that appears, you can browse for music in a variety of ways. However, the quickest may be to simply search for the music you wish to pin. So tap the (Y) button on the Xbox controller to display the Music Search experience.

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From this screen, you can simply type in the name of the artist, album, song, or other item you wish to pin. (Hint: You can plug in a USB keyboard to make this process less tedious.) Note that the “Show artists” box can be selected to filter the search results between artists, albums, songs, and other items.

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When you find an item you wish to examine further, simply select it from the search results.

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If it’s an artist or album, you can simply click Pin Artist or Pin Album, respectively, and the item will be saved to your list of pinned items. When you do so, the Pin tile changes to read Remove Pin.

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Pinning a song is a bit more complex. If you select a song, it will simply be added to the Now Playing list and will begin playing.

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To exit out of this screen, press (B), for Back. You’ll notice that the screen now has a mini playback control at the bottom.

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Select this control with (A) to display the Playback controls. You can click Pin Track to pin just this song to your list of pinned items.

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To view your list of pinned items, you need to navigate to My Collection, My Pins in the Zune Music app. Here, you’ll see a list of the items you’ve pinned in a linear, tile-based display.

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From here, you can add items to the Now Playing list, play a pinned artist, album, or song, remove pins, access the Playback controls, and more. I’m hoping that a future version of this app will allow you to sync pinned items—including playlists of various kinds—through SkyDrive, but even in its current, fairly basic state, this is a particularly useful if hidden feature. I use it during the day to play instrumental music while I work, but it’s not hard to imagine using this for parties or other get-togethers.