June 10, 2005

Microsoft Planning Music Subscription Service

ZDNet: Microsoft is planning to improve the experience of its MSN-branded online music store with a new subscription service expected later this year that will include a downloadable software application separate from the standard Windows Media Player. Yahoo's recent market entrance has undoubtedly shortened their time table, but it's about time they get their feet wet and get off the sidelines... "The tentative features of the new service (which is still under development) include advanced community aspects and playlist-sharing. But sources say Microsoft is also considering a more direct attack on Apple, seeking rights from copyright holders to give subscribers a new, Microsoft-formatted version of any song they've purchased from the iTunes store so those songs can be played on devices other than an iPod."

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June 02, 2005

MSN Launches Meet The Music Campaign

Msn_musicMediapost: Yesterday, MSN Music quietly launched a massive multi-channel marketing campaign targeting a broad spectrum of users with print, radio, online, and outdoor advertising to promote its downloadable music service, MSN Music. The MSN promotional offer "Meet MSN Music" will no doubt get most people's attention - effectively dropping the price of a single song to around $.16 cents a piece...From now until July 10 - when you buy one song for $.99 cents - you get your next five free, ready to download to your favorite Windows compatible digital music device, or to burn to a CD...

--MSN Launches Music Marketing Blitz

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April 25, 2005

Billboard Partners With MSN

Yahoo: Today, MSN launched a new Spanish-language version of its popular MSN Video service and also announced that it is hosting the official Web site for the 2005 Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards - which started today in Miami. "As presenter of the most celebrated awards show in the Latin music industry, we wanted that same high level of prestige and dedication from our online content partner for this year's event," said John Kilcullen, president and publisher of Billboard..."and we're thoroughly impressed with MSN's creativity and commitment in delivering extensive, quality entertainment content to Hispanic audiences on the Web."


--MSN Video Adds Spanish Language Content -
The new video site, called MSN Latino Video, will launch with music videos and content from last year's Billboard Latin Music events and will be updated with footage from this year's show, a pre-show red carpet event, and the awards presentation this week. MSN expects to add news and additional entertainment content to the site in coming months...

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April 04, 2005

Microsoft Unveils New Video Download Service

Microsoft_mobile_video_downloads_posRedHerring:  Television addicts can now rejoice with Microsoft's Mobile Video Download Service launched last week. Catering to the on-demand society that we're evolving into, analysts said, "the move is not so much a reaction to demand for video content as it is a way to entice consumers to purchase mobile devices...." Premium subscribers who sign up for an annual subscription will be able to access every MSN video download - including all shows from the Food Network, HGTV, MSNBC.com, and Fox Sports, as well as special comedy and children’s videos...However the service is currently being offered only in the U.S.  The service requires Windows XP and Internet Explorer 5 or higher and Windows Media Player 10 and up. While the play may be viewed as a smart move this late in the game to stir demand for Windows Mobile-driven devices, it might not be too profitable on the subscription side since only 50 million of 700 million mobile phones shipped worldwide are smart phones with video capabilities...

--Microsoft Launches Mobile Video Downloads
--Microsoft Debuts Mobile Video Downloads

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March 25, 2005

M3 DAY 1 Keynote: MSN Marketplaces

M3_summit_day_1_024 Mike Conte is the General Manager for MSN Marketplaces and he led an informal overview and discussion of where Microsoft is in the digital music world.  He seemed very sharp, down to earth and was my favorite speaker of the day. He stated that Microsoft has redoubled their efforts to acquire more content and as a result they now have 1.2 million tracks available for download in the catalogue and will start making some more noise in the market.  Also, by offering exclusive songs and free videos on the portal (i.e. Mariah Carey’s latest single) he hopes that in addition to generating more traffic – the visitors will come back for actual purchases after getting a small sample. Conte said that Microsoft has a staff of 1,000 working on digital media and that the company is putting more effort and resources into this space. Couple of other interesting points:

-- They’ve signed approximately 3,000 deals with independent labels

-- Windows Media Player was rated #1 on the PC

-- MSN is one of the top 3 portals and has a reach of 390 million unique visitors

-- Only 25% of iPod owners buy music from iTunes and the average owner only has 25

    purchased songs loaded onto the unit.

With respect to the future, Conte said that Microsoft will broaden its catalogue with more depth as quickly as possible.  He stated that part of the problem of managing this content growth up to this point has been that they had picked only 1 vendor to do their encoding and that created a backlog. In addition to hiring Sony last month to help with some of the overflow, the company has also hired a 3rd vendor to speed up the process – which I’m sure a lot of labels and artists that signed with them months ago (but have yet to be posted on the site) will be glad to hear….

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March 24, 2005

MSN Music Nabs Carey Exclusive

Mariah Carey has partnered with MSN to exclusively deliver digital downloads of her new single "We Belong Together." Apparently, this deal is the latest premiere of Universal Music Group's (UMG) Content being made available on MSN Music.  The new album, "The Emancipation of Mimi" is set to arrive in stores April 12, but fans can get it now through MSN Music.  In addition, the portal will also host the world premiere of the accompanying video.  According to Steve Bartels, CEO of Island Records, "This is a terrific new opportunity for Island Def Jam and MSN Music to collaborate on a campaign that centers on one of the most important artists in all of pop music history."

MSN also recently had the exclusive scoop on UMG artists: Beck, Eminem, and JoJo.  And finally, despite Apple's recent claims to have been the first and only store to offer 1 million songs, the press release states that MSN music also offers "over 1 million tracks available for download in all genres."

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March 14, 2005

MSN Music Using Long Tail In Hiring

Well, rather inconsequential, but funny. Read this...MSN is using the "long tail" meme (a concept started by Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson to hire for its online music division...
"Did you read The Long Tail in 'Wired' and feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? Do you have the web mentality where every byte counts and ship cycles are measured in weeks, not years? If you passionately say 'yes' to these questions then we want to hear from you. MSN Entertainment is an aggressive, hungry group."
Me, I smell desperation...

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March 02, 2005

Mike Conte, GM, MSN Marketplaces, on MSN's Music Strategy

Dmw8Mike Conte, the Moby lookalike, was interviewed at the Digital Music Forum by Paul Brindley, MD at MusicAlly. Another tame one, where Conte gave the official MSFT spiel about Playsforsure campaign, Janus DRM, and the need for community (MSN Spaces) development in music (at least he used the word blogs, the only one at the conference to use it besides our blog launch announcement).
( )Download the interview audio of the from here...

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February 27, 2005

Get a New Digital Music Leader, MSN

Michael Gartenberg at Jupiter Research writes up this great note to Microsoft, following Apple's dominance in the digital music market, and MSFT's small role in the market till now. And he asks them to find a new leader to head the division: "Let's face it, you have all the tools to respond but at the moment, you seem to lack the leadership to tie it all together...you need a digital music czar."
"What you don't have is a coordinated person to make all this stuff work together. To make sure that internal technology is aligned with device vendors and music stores and services. That there's a single, coordinated marketing message that can be presented to consumers, press and analysts and that you not only respond and react to competitors rules but you actually start changing the rules of the game."

Posted by Rafat Ali in MSN | Permalink | Comments (9)