MTV, Microsoft launch digital music service Urge

MUMBAI: Media conglomerate Viacom's unit MTV Networks, which brought in the music video fad, is foraying into new digital music service and will be competing with the music store of Apple Computer Inc's iTunes, which has a strong dominance in the online music market.

The broadcaster has teamed up with Microsoft to launch the beta of a new online music service, called Urge, that will be integrated in Windows Media Player 11, which is set to make its debut on 17 May.

Offering more than two million songs from the major labels and thousands of independents, Urge will encompass all musical genres from alt-country to zydeco. 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, the subscription and download music service, though not first in the market, can be purchased for 99 cents each or as full albums starting at $9.95. The service will also offer a two-week trial without requiring any commitment or credit card number, according to media reports.

The service also will offer unlimited downloads at a monthly rate of $9.95 or $14.95 for the ability to transfer songs to any or more than 100 compatible portable music players.

It has celebrity playlists, streaming radio stations, artist profiles and an increasing number of blogs. One can download billboard charts by genre and year, watch music videos, and explore music by genre.

MTV Networks’ music group president Van Toffler said, “Urge will serve as a ‘psychic concierge,’ introducing fans to new artists and helping them to develop a deeper connection to old favorites.”

“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 media/entertainment and technology convergence group corporate vice president Blair Westlake.

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

Urge will be promoted through multiple venues, including the MTV, Vh1 and CMT channels, which on average collectively reach more than 165 million US viewers, as well as through the respective brands’ web sites and

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