REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 14, 1999 — What do singers David Bowie, Tori Amos and Mariah Carey have in common? They’re all tuning into the Internet as a new medium for delivering music to their fans. And to make it happen, they’re turning to Windows Media Technologies, Microsoft’s digital platform for streaming audio and video.
“It’s amazing how many music artists are turning to Windows Media Technologies (WMT) to deliver music over the Web,” said Kevin Unangst, lead product manager for the Microsoft Streaming Media Division. “The large number of new releases delivered with Windows Media in recent months demonstrates that Microsoft’s solution is the most viable solution for delivering music on the web.”
Providing music over the Internet offers a way for artists to make their music instantly accessible to millions of consumers. Yet until recently, concerns about security and audio quality prevented many artists from using this medium. Record companies were worried about the potential for users to make copies of songs and illegally distribute them over the Internet. And poor sound quality relegated online music to an inferior status compared to the CD-quality music available in music stores.
Windows Media Technologies 4, Microsoft’s latest version of its digital media platform released last month, is designed to address both of these obstacles, Unangst said. The release includes breakthrough audio technologies developed with Microsoft Research to provide a new standard for CD-quality audio on the Internet.
“High-quality sound is paramount to artists, record labels and consumers tapping into the Internet as a music medium,” Unangst said. “And independent laboratory tests have proven that Microsoft delivers the best sound in the smallest packages.”
In addition, Windows Media Technologies 4 includes a feature called “Digital Rights Management,” which gives artists and record labels the ability to control how their music is distributed over the Internet. The feature enables copyright holders to set flexible boundaries to ensure music is distributed according to their terms, Unangst said. It also guarantees consumers that the music they are downloading is authentic.
“Without Digital Rights Management, artists were reluctant to make their music available online,” Unangst said. “We believe WMT 4 addresses that concern by allowing the music industry to offer their music over the Web without the fear that their intellectual property is vulnerable to piracy.”
The number of high-caliber artists adopting WMT demonstrates the success of Microsoft’s solution, Unangst said. In recent weeks, Microsoft has reached agreements with major artists in a variety of genres including Disney country artist John Berry, EMI/Virgin rock artist David Bowie and EMI/Capitol Records artist Marcy Playground. John Berry’s new song, “Power Windows,” along with exclusive video footage, will be available soon using WMT on WindowsMedia.com, Microsoft’s Web site for downloading music and videos.
Next week, David Bowie will use Windows Media for an Internet first when he makes his entire new album, “hours…,” available for download on the Internet before it reaches music stores. In addition, fans of Marcy Playground can get the band’s second album, “Shapeshifter,” online weeks before it ships to stores by preordering a CD via an online retailer.
According to Robin Bechtel, Head of Capitol Records New Media, “We (Capitol Records) chose to include Microsoft as our promotional partner for the Marcy Playground release because of both the huge audience they bring and the excellent sound quality of Windows Media Technologies.”
These latest releases continue a series of major hit singles released on the Web using WMT. In August, the release of Sony pop singer Mariah Carey’s new single, “Heartbreaker,” in WMT format was made available exclusively on WindowsMedia.com. Other significant recent releases using WMT include Atlantic Records artist Tori Amos’s single “Bliss,” an exclusive live version of Atlantic Records artist Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning,” the world premiere of EMI/Capitol Records country artist Garth Brooks (as Chris Gaines) music video “Lost In You” and three previously unreleased Beastie Boys tracks.
“The digital music revolution is becoming more mainstream with the help of secure formats and high-quality audio made possible by Windows Media,” Unangst said. “We’re giving the music labels the opportunity to extend their business into a new realm.”