Microsoft Unveils Windows Media Innovation Award, Honors Lenny Kravitz as First Recipient

Dave Fester, general manager of the Microsoft Digital Media Division, presented Lenny Kravitz with the Inaugural Windows Media Innovation Award in New York City on May 2, 2002. They are pictured from left to right with Jay Samit, senior vice president of EMI, and Ty Braswell, vice president of New Media for Virgin Records. (click to download high-resolution image)

REDMOND, Wash., and NEW YORK, May 6, 2002 — Microsoft Corp. and Lenny Kravitz, along with EMI subsidiary Virgin Records America, today announced that the multiplatinum recording star and the record label are inaugural recipients of the Microsoft

Windows Media

Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft, presented the award to Kravitz in New York on May 2 for his pioneering use of digital media, including Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media digital rights management (DRM) technology, to distribute music securely and easily to fans over the Internet. The award recognizes innovative achievements in digital media from pioneering recording artists, film and music distributors, and enterprises.

The award, which Microsoft plans to present biannually, carries with it a donation of $25,000 (U.S.) in cash and $25,000 (U.S.) worth of software to be made to the recipients favorite charity. Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates sent a letter to Kravitz congratulating him on his innovative use of digital media. Gates wrote in the letter to Kravitz,
“Your experimentation with digital media is setting a groundbreaking example of how the Internet can be a secure and powerful medium for legitimate music distribution. Im impressed by the many cool ways youre using this technology not only to share your work, but also to build personal, ongoing relationships with your fans over the Internet.”

“Were establishing the Windows Media Innovation Award as our way to recognize those organizations or individuals who are using digital media in breakthrough ways,”
Fester said.
“Were excited about presenting this award to Lenny Kravitz because of his groundbreaking example of how to deliver music on the Internet to his fans all over the world.”

“Music is all about expressing yourself freely and communicating ideas,”
Kravitz said.
“The combination of digital media and the Internet is helping me connect with my fans all over the world in new ways, and its cool to be recognized for this.”

Already widely recognized as a music-industry innovator, Kravitzs aggressive adoption of digital media technology to promote his work with existing fans while attracting new followers distinguishes him among recording artists. Microsofts choice of Kravitz as the first recipient of the Windows Media Innovation Award was based on accomplishments such as these:

  • Kravitz was the first artist to qualify for a GRAMMY Award nomination through online sales of downloads for the hit single
    “Dig In,”
    which resulted in his fourth consecutive GRAMMY Award.

  • He was one of the first musicians to provide a music video download, in September 2000, over the Internet. Using Windows Media DRM licensing rights controls, fans could download and view the music video to Kravitzs hit single
    an original song off his
    “Greatest Hits”
    album. More than 110,000 people downloaded the video in 12 weeks, far outstripping Virgins expectation of 40,000 downloads.

  • Proving digital medias effectiveness as a promotional tool, Kravitz and Virgin Records teamed with the BET cable network during Black Music Month in June 2001 on a highly successful weeklong promotion that enabled site visitors to download Outkasts remixed version of Kravitzs hit single

  • Kravitz used the Windows Media format to create online remixes for the song
    “Believe in Me”
    in a contest co-sponsored with Sonic Foundry.

  • He offered the first video downloads with and

Kravitz made music history by becoming the first artist to have a single qualify for a GRAMMY Award based on sales from online downloads. Using Windows Media Audio, Kravitz released the single in digital form on the Web early enough to qualify for a GRAMMY Award. Acceptance of online sales by the GRAMMYs controlling body, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, is a major step in establishing the legitimacy of online music. After qualifying for the award, Kravitz received his fourth consecutive GRAMMY Award, a GRAMMY first, for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

“Lenny has always challenged us to come up with new ideas to embrace the Internet to reach his fans,”
said Ty Braswell, vice president for New Media Virgin Records.
“Time after time we turned to Microsoft for help with our digital media promotions, and time after time it gave us the tools we needed to be innovators.”

In March, Kravitz and Virgin Records co-sponsored a digital song remix contest in which fans downloaded Sonic Foundrys free ACID XPress software to remix Kravitzs song
“Believe in Me.”
Fans submitted entries in WMA format, offering CD-quality audio in half the file size of an MP3 file. The contest winner received an all-expenses-paid weeklong trip to the Winter Music Conference in Miami from March 2330, courtesy of Virgin Records, and an autographed guitar from Kravitz during a ceremony at the conference. The winning remix of
“Believe in Me”
is featured at ACID Planets Web site, .

About Windows Media

Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, providing unmatched audio and video quality to consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations. Windows Media offers the industrys only integrated rights-management solution and the most scalable and reliable streaming technology tested by independent labs. Windows Media Technologies includes Windows Media Player for consumers, Windows Media Services for servers, Windows Media Tools for content creation, and the Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK) for software developers. Windows Media Player, available in 26 languages, is the fastest-growing media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at .

About Virgin Records America

Virgin began in the early 1970s as a small, independent label based in London. By 1986, Virgin had grown dramatically and brought its innovative approach to U.S. soil. Today, Virgin Records America and its London-based parent company, Virgin Music Group Worldwide, are part of EMI, the worlds third-largest music company. In America, Virgin is distributed by EMI Music Distribution (EMD), and the labels offerings span virtually all contemporary musical genres, including modern rock, R & B, pop, hip hop, rap, blues, country, film soundtracks, compilations and contemporary instrumentals. Over 25 years after its humble beginnings, Virgin remains devoted to seeking and embracing artists who possess the talent, vision and passion to create something new and different.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft and Windows Media are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsofts corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. Journalists and analysts may contact Microsofts Rapid Response Team for additional assistance.

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