Microsoft Launches Ignition
Microsoft has launced Ignition, an initiative to promote emerging music acts across its digital properties. The program is designed to expose new artists and their music to consumers for an entire month by featuring exclusive content through Microsoft’s multiple services, including MSN, Xbox Live and Zune.
The first participating act is U.K. band Maximo Park. Microsoft is providing the group’s first single as a free exclusive download via the Zune Marketplace, making the music video available as a free download from the Xbox Live Marketplace and streaming the video on MSN.
The company will host online listening parties of the act’s current album on MSN Music and provide a custom Web site dedicated to the band and its activities on the Zune.net site. And Microsoft is working with the band to produce custom content, such as artist-created playlists and “behind-the-album” commentary featuring track-by-track insights and observations by band members, all available via the Zune service.
Microsoft is demanding exclusive content and hands-on participation from the artists involved. “We don’t want the same thing that is going out on MTV,” Microsoft director of music marketing Christina Calio said.
Ignition is the culmination of several artist promotional efforts that Microsoft has offered during the past year. Following the Zune launch, Microsoft began sponsoring artists’ tours. Xbox Live offers an Artist of the Month program that includes free music video downloads, interviews and monthly “Game with Fame” sessions where gamers can compete online with artists. It was an exclusive partnership with Epic Records until March.
The news comes on the heels of the embarrassing retraction by Microsoft that the Zune has not actually sold one million units of their digital music player.