Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tech Link (Industry): Free music for Xbox Live users

You got to love the freebies in the air. Microsoft* and Epic Records* teamed up to deliver such goodies right at the comfort of your own living room without the fuss. While many will view it as something to get people "addicted" to the service then charging a fee afterwards, the fact can't be discounted that it's being offered totally free for a full year. Now that's a long time of freebie time.
Image owned by BitTech

I always wanted freebies, and this is definitely not only going to cater to XBox fans, but even for those just wanting to jump into the platform. I am thinking sales will pick up because of this, which should be good for Microsoft* and Epic Records. It's a win-win scenario, consumers get the freebies, manufacturers/producers get to do advertising and enlarge their audience coverage. Who wouldn't want to get a free music videos of their favorite artists?

This is extremely exciting, if this becomes succesful, I reckon movie industries may start to offer a similar service. Err, can we say, Intel® Viiv™? Intel® Viiv™ will surely provide that kind of service and more, so Intel® Viiv™ for most of the major Digital Home computing and XBox* for uber gaming.

Xbox 360 gamers will soon be able to enjoy a full year of exclusive artist content and music videos completely free thanks to a deal announced today between Microsoft and Epic Records.

A different artist will be featured each month, starting with our own Natasha Bedingfield, who is currently taking the US by storm with two recent Top 10 hits. She also currently hold the title of Number 1 Most Downloaded Pop Song on iTunes.

"Our goal has always been to make Xbox Live a cutting-edge entertainment experience," said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "This agreement with Epic Records offers our members exclusive artistic content directly from the source. With Artist of the Month we will be providing exactly what music-loving gamers want: brand-new, exclusive music videos that can be downloaded quickly, easily and free of charge."

"The fusion of music and video games now plays a significant role in breaking artists and enhancing the video game experience; the cross-cultivation of the two mediums helps new games and new artists thrive together," said Charlie Walk, president of Epic Records. "Through this alliance, Epic and Xbox show that we are in one business - exciting young adults and leading them to the art of discovery."

Xbox Live subscribers are now able to download content directly from Xbox Live Marketplace for free, including music videos and exclusive interviews, for the first year. It is not known whether there will be a charge beyond the first trial year.

Of equal concern is storage capacity - the Xbox 360 ships with "only" 20GB of hard drive capacity. This might sound plenty for save games and mini games like Geometry Wars but in this new era of high definition content, it actually isn't all that much. We downloaded the 720p version of Bedingfield's music video last night and it was a mighty 222MB; at just over 4 minutes long, you're looking at nearly one megabyte per second.

Playable demos delivered over Xbox Live, such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted can be up to 500MB each. Add in one's own music collection ripped directly onto the console from audio CD and filling the hard drive doesn't seem that far fetched. Of course, should that happen, one can always add a secondary external hard drive thanks to the on-board USB 2.0 slots.

We want to know your thoughts - will this deal usher in a new wave of rich media that can only enhance the Xbox 360 ownership experience, or is this another cynical move to get users hooked on content, only to then start charging for it? Cast your vote in our News Discussion forum.


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