December 13, 2005 7:56 AM PST

MTV, Microsoft band together for music service

After promising to launch a digital music service for several years, MTV said Tuesday that it is close to releasing an online music mart that will throw it into competition with iTunes and Napster.

Although offering few details, the company said it has worked closely with Microsoft to build a service called Urge that will let listeners experiment with new music, as well as offer "original, hand-crafted content" from MTV and its other cable channels.

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

The company's anticipated entry into the music business could help shake up dynamics that have long favored Apple Computer's iTunes. A host of companies allied with Microsoft have trailed behind.

MTV first announced that it would enter the digital music market in late 2003, not long after Apple launched the first version of its iTunes store for Windows.

Since then, Apple has consistently maintained a market share in the digital download business of more than 70 percent. Recently, it added a range of music videos and television shows to the iTunes store, encroaching on MTV's territory.

Subscription-based services have also evolved substantially as entrants such as Yahoo, Virgin, and Napster have joined RealNetworks' Rhapsody, tapping Microsoft technology to enable subscribers to bring their music to portable devices.

Nevertheless, MTV does bring a strong music brand to the market, as well as a potential deal sweetener: years of content produced for its television networks that could be distributed through a joint music and video download service.

The company said Urge would include a subscription component, as well as allowing individual song sales. A spokesman declined to discuss pricing, saying full details would be announced next month. The company gave no specifics on launch date beyond saying it would be sometime in 2006.

In a joint release with Microsoft, MTV said the two companies had worked closely together on the design of the new service and that it would be promoted inside the Windows Media Player.

Today, a handful of other services, including Napster, MusicNow and Microsoft's own MSN Music, are available through the Windows Media Player. In its recent antitrust settlement with RealNetworks, Microsoft agreed that it would promote no other music service more heavily than that company's Rhapsody service.

14 comments

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Why?
People still watch MTV?
Posted by Rolndubbs (194 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Most people
Most people who watch MTV are young, it is a fact that most young people dont pay for music. They either dont have the money or dont feel like they have to if they can get it for free It will be interesting to see if MS + MTV will pull this off

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://otherthingsnow.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://otherthingsnow.blogspot.com/</a>
Posted by SqlserverCode (165 comments )
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How many music subscription choices can there be?
Will one company dominate this space?
Posted by ccisat1dxj (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
as many...
Apparently... the answer is "As many subscription choices as it takes to defeat Apple Computer".
Posted by UntoldDreams (91 comments )
Link Flag
Re:
Yeah,

Since Apple has so much market share and there are so many companies fighting for it, I don't think one opposing company will come out on top. This will eventually become a "battle of the media formats".

Sony (ATRAC) vs. Apple (AAC) vs. Microsoft (WMA)

I don't see much difference between the WMA subscription services. I think it is just a matter of what software you prefer best. I believe they all pretty much have the same amount of content.

I prefer MSN's music service overall. (The old) Rhapsody and Napster were unstable and slow to launch on my machine. MSN's service is integrated into WMP 10 (which is my preferred media player).
Posted by darrius3365 (98 comments )
Link Flag
Somehow....
... the irony of MTV and MS together trying to develop a quality
product seems quite fitting.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Does MTV still play music videos?
Remember the good ol' days when MTV stood for Music TeleVision? When MTV play a creative broad spectrum of music videos from many artists all day long? Maybe here &#38; there an interview with a band or Headline Music News...

Those days are long gone. Today it's formulaic bands with rubber stamped videos that dare not push the envelope with any sort of creative videography, by the same formula clone bands mass produced by the music conglomerates that you see over &#38; over &#38; over....
Most of the time it's commercials &#38; TV Shows "Real World" etc....

MSMTV just what we need...NOT!
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MTV=
Crap.
Posted by paulsecic (298 comments )
Link Flag
MTV = BET... sad
I don't believe anyone watches MTV for music anymore, the public has shifted toward FuseTV and VH1, while those embracing RAP have held true to MTV
Posted by bobj123 (94 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hurray...
I can finaly watch Real World on my computer!!!
Posted by Goose (93 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Real World
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/porsche_911_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/porsche_911_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Plays For Sure*
-pinch nose as you read this-
The combination of the world's largest software company and
the world's largest hip TV channel will allow URGE to achieve a
unique synergy. Combining MTV's brand recognition among
12-22 year olds and Microsoft's superior Plays For Sure DRM
technology will yield massive market penetration into the tween
and teen market. URGE will leverage MTV's presence in teen
bedrooms and Plays For Sure will leverage Microsoft, Samsung,
Dell, and Creative's combined marketing dollars and expertise.
In summary, Microsoft and MTV will go down in music history as
a major success on the order of Michael Jackson and Paul
McCartney's Ebony and Ivory...

* Except for the 80% of you using iTunes
Posted by stanshih (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Urge? Should have called it "Purge".
purge (pûrj)
v. purged, purg·ing, purg·es

To cause evacuation of the bowels.
n.
The act or process of purging.
Something that purges, especially a medicinal purgative.


:-)
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
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