MTV and Microsoft to start digital music service

MUMBAI: MTV Networks and Microsoft Corp. have collaborated on the design and development of MTV Networks' new digital music service called 'Urge'. Set to debut domestically in 2006, Urge will provide an immersive music experience and will be integrated into a forthcoming version of Microsoft Windows Media Player.

The collaboration unites MTV Networks' music DNA and MTV, VH1 and CMT brands with the technology leadership and consumer reach of Microsoft.

Upon its debut next year, Urge will be promoted through multiple venues, including the MTV, VH1 and CMT channels, which on average collectively reach more than 165 million viewers US, as well as through the respective brands' websites and Additional details of the new service will be unveiled in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Urge will offer rich entertainment programming and innovative tools designed to guide musical discovery and connect fans to the artists and music they love. Offering more than two million songs from the major labels and thousands of independents, Urge will encompass all musical genres.

In addition to a broad catalogue of music choices, Urge will deliver a deep well of exclusive MTV Networks programming and original, hand-crafted content.

Urge has garnered early support from BMG US chairman and CEO Clive Davis, Warner Music Group chairman and CEO US Recorded Music Lyor Cohen and musical superstars Alicia Keys, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Gretchen Wilson.

"We live to connect artists and fans in the most imaginative ways possible. With our new service, we will be able to satisfy music lovers' Urges for all things music. In many ways, Urge will serve as a 'psychic concierge,' introducing fans to new artists and helping them to develop a deeper connection to old favourites," said MTV Networks Music Group president Van Toffler.

"By combining our expertise in digital media with the music leadership and marketing savvy of MTV Networks, we have created a powerful and unique way to experience music. This landmark collaboration will bring innovative new experiences to millions of music fans," said Microsoft corporate vice president media technology and convergence Blair Westlake.

"As with everything we do at MTV Networks, every element of Urge is being developed with our audience in mind. Beyond providing a simple transactional service, Urge will provide a musical playground where fans can explore, customise, discover and download new music," said MTV Networks chief digital officer Jason Hirschhorn.

"With Urge, MTV Networks is again at the forefront of revolutionising where and how our combined audiences across the globe can connect with the music and the artists they love. Urge will join the array of powerful new platforms that provide Warner Music Group with an innovative way to launch new artists and celebrate established favorites. With MTV Networks' expertise and global reach, it promises to be the ultimate full service music experience," said Cohen.

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