MSN Music Service Creates Largest Global Resource For Legal Music Downloads

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 12, 2004 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the first official U.S. release of MSN®
Music, which provides an easy way for people to find, discover and legally download music online. Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates demonstrated MSN Music’s features and content at an event in Los Angles today in conjunction with other new consumer technologies from Microsoft that create new digital entertainment experiences for the home and on the go. Microsoft also announced that MSN Music will be available in eight additional countries, creating the world’s largest network of legal online music download services.

“MSN Music is moving to the center of a worldwide stage and will make it easier for music fans in 17 countries around the world to discover and download music legally online,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice president for MSN. “MSN Music’s vast catalog, the familiarity of MSN, and the service’s broad compatibility with more than 70 devices will open the door to online music for millions of people worldwide.”

AC/DC, Independent Labels Add to MSN Music’s Exclusive Roster

For the first time ever online, U.S. fans of rockers AC/DC will get a taste of the exclusive offerings consumers will find on MSN Music with today’s online debut of the group’s catalog. No other commercial download service offers “Back in Black, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” or any other albums from the Australian band’s classics.

“We’re excited to be working with MSN Music to bring AC/DC’s powerful body of work to the online arena,” said Steve Barnett, executive vice president and general manager of Epic Records. “The fact that MSN is offering releases such as ‘Back in Black’ and ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ in their entirety ensures that fans across the United States will be able to experience these classic albums exactly as the band intended. We look forward to working closely with MSN on this exclusive debut, as well as on the overall launch of the service.”

“MSN Music offers music fans a fully integrated entertainment experience that encompasses a broad array of legitimate downloads, music news, album reviews and artist biographies,” said Thomas Hesse, president, Global Digital Business, Sony BMG Music Entertainment. “The ability of MSN to create a compelling online retail experience, together with its broad reach and dedication to quality, make the service an important destination for online music, and the perfect choice to debut AC/DC’s highly influential, full-length albums.”

Many independent record labels also are exclusively betting on MSN Music to extend their reach online. Among the more than 3,000 independents featured on the service, dozens of these unique influential labels are offered only on MSN Music. Exclusive labels include jazz label Justin Time, soul label Malaco, genre-defying label Telarc, classical music label Delos and the archive from the Smithsonian Folkways offering traditional folk, roots and world music, to name a few. The MSN Music service brings a wide variety of music to suit even the most eclectic tastes.

Added Features Enhance Consumer Experience

MSN has expanded the many features available within MSN Music since a preview version of the service debuted Sept. 1 to include the following:

  • Integration with Microsoft

    XP Media Center Edition 2005.
    MSN is adding to the power of Media Center PCs by offering MSN Music as part of the Media Center experience so consumers can now purchase and enjoy their favorite music without ever having to leave the couch.

  • Hot cities by decade. Music fans can take musical journeys through time and around the United States by selecting a recent decade and city from an interactive list and map. MSN Music has created a list of top bands from popular cities during different decades, as well as provided articles on each of these music scenes — such as the Grateful Dead and other bands of the San Francisco scene of the 1960s to the Ramones and the rest of the 1970s New York punk scene.

  • Listening booth and listening parties. Music fans can preview select albums that are not yet available to download or in stores.

  • Billboard Hot 100 and more. MSN Music contains the Billboard Hot 100 and comprehensive information about favorite artists, including extensive biographies, discographies, photos, gossip and news.

  • Music videos. MSN Music features hundreds of the latest music videos from today’s top-selling artists.

  • Ring tones. For music fans who want to personalize their mobile phones, MSN Music will offer downloadable ring tones for many popular songs from Zingy.*

MSN Music Services Take Legal Downloading Global

In addition to the service in the United States, MSN has added music services in four new European markets, with an additional four coming soon, extending the global reach of MSN Music to 18 markets by the end of the month. Through a relationship with Loudeye’s OD2, a leading digital music provider, new services debuted today in Austria, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Services in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are coming soon through a relationship with CDON. No other commercial online music service reaches as many people, countries or markets.

These international services, built on partner technology, will be available through the local MSN site within the countries they serve, providing music fans with an experience similar to that of the U.S. version, including a similar look and feel. As in the United States, the international services will be available through Windows Media®
Player 10 and the Web browser by the end of the month. MSN also partners with Loudeye’s OD2 for services in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. MSN partners with Digital Prism in Korea and iMusica in Brazil to offer services in those countries.

MSN Music Announces Relationship With Creative

MSN also has teamed up with Creative to help introduce music fans all over the world to the benefits of MSN Music. Consumers in the United States and seven international markets — Australia, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom — will now get the best of both worlds — award-winning Creative digital audio players and the easiest music service online — when they buy one of Creative’s media players or sounds cards, including Zen Touch and Nomad Jukebox. The customized software that comes with Creative digital audio players and sounds cards will allow customers to install MSN Music and provide will a desktop shortcut to the service.

MSN Music Is Integral to Digital Entertainment Lifestyle

At today’s event in Los Angeles, Gates underscored the importance of MSN Music as a key element in the company’s comprehensive vision for Digital Entertainment Anywhere. MSN Music and the other products and services Gates highlighted are designed to let consumers create customized digital entertainment experiences with their favorite music, photos, television and home videos — and enjoy them anywhere throughout the home or on the road.

“I’m thrilled to be part of today’s event to highlight the advancements Microsoft is making in the digital entertainment world,” said Queen Latifah, singer, songwriter, Oscar-nominated actor and producer. “The launch of MSN Music has coincided well with the release of my new album, ‘the Dana Owens Album,’ and MSN has created many unique ways to help promote it including a live online chat between me and my fans, a listening party to groove to the sounds of the new album, and starting today MSN Music fans can also get exclusive access to the B-side of my album.”

About MSN

MSN attracts more than 350 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 39 markets and 20 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering Web services to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. The most useful and innovative online service today, MSN brings consumers everything they need from the Web to make the most of their time online. MSN is located on the Web at . MSN worldwide sites are located at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

* Ring tones are scheduled to be fully integrated into MSN Music by the end of October 2004.

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