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Tn_logo(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) -- DownloadPunk.com, an on-line music retailer geared specifically towards the punk and indie community with digital music downloads, is now live. DownloadPunk offers a catalog that runs into the deepest corners of punk, hardcore, emo, metalcore, pop punk, post punk, ska, street punk, indie rock and metal genres and sub-genres with over 30,000 songs from over 120 labels.

DownloadPunk currently features releases from labels such as Epitaph, Nitro, Lookout, Trustkill, SideOneDummy, Ferret, Fearless, Fiddler, The Militia Group, Doghouse, Triple Crown, Artemis, Jade Tree, Volcom and Hopeless/Sub City Records with many more to be added in the very near future.

User-friendly, fans can search for music via search tools based on band name, song name, album name, label and/or genre as well as have the option to preview a 30-second sample of any song before purchase. Each download is available at three different prices. Individual songs can be downloaded for .79, .89, or .99 cents and full albums are priced at $7.99, $8.99, or $9.99. All downloads are available in both MP3 and WMA, thus making the songs compatible on an iPod and a variety of other players.


Starbuck's Music Campaign A Smash. More Planned.

MusicBiz.com reports: "One of the most surprising record sales success stories this year has to be Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company, which scanned over 100,000 records in each of the first two weeks of its release. Charles, of course, is a legend, and his posthumous release was expected to do well. But what made those numbers surprising was where a lot of those records were sold - namely, Starbucks.

As the featured release in its new Hear Music series, Starbucks generated slightly over 20% of his first-week total, and to this day remains the biggest single source of sales, over Wal-Mart or any traditional retail chain. Yet the Charles project will not be a one-time phenomenon. In an exclusive interview with Starbucks Entertainment President Ken Lombard, the retail coffeehouse boutique will be using its undeniably successful lifestyle brand to become a significant retail source for music often overlooked by traditional outlets."

Sony BMG Names 3 Ditigial VP

Thomas Hesse has been appointed president of global digital business at Sony BMG Music Entertainment.

Hesse will head the newly created global digital business group and lead the joint Sony BMG technology efforts. Hesse was previously VP of Corporate Strategy at Bertelsmann AG based in New York.

Additionally, Thomas Gewecke has been named Senior VP at Sony BMG's digital business group, and Matt Carpenter has been appointed as Senior VP of Global Digital Operations, both reporting to Hesse.

I'm sure all these fellows are all very talented and deserve our congratualtions; and we applaud their efforts to step out front in the new digital world. But does the world need so many Vice-Presidents? Don't the majors need more creative foot soldiers infiltrating and experimenting and fewer execs spending the artists money on expensive lunches and d first-class flights?

Jupiter Report: CD To Hang On

Reuters reports that the compact disc has at least another five years as Europe's most popular music format before online downloads chip away at its dominance.

Technology consulting outfit Jupiter Research said in its annual report that in 2009 European music fans will buy $1 billion worth of music in the form of digital downloads and subscriptions to Internet radio services. At that level, digital music revenues will account for roughly 8% of Europe's music market.

The study does not take into account the surprisingly successful Europeam market for mobile phone ring tones. "Although Europe's digital music market has finally begun to take off after a sluggish start, it will remain a relatively niche market," said Mark Mulligan, a Jupiter analyst told Rueters. Jupiter said the venerable CD -- not the download -- will remain the best-selling format throughout the remainder of the decade as the installed base of CD players continue to dwarf that of MP3 players and other digital music devices.

But hypebot wonders what happens when a iPod or iPod like devise is vailable for inder $100?

Only when affordable technology is available to the masses can new trends reach mass market acceptance.

Virgin Digital Launches

In a move we're surprised Richard Branson didn't make more than a year ago Virgin became the newest brand in online music late last week with the launch of Virgin Digital.

The site offers more than a million tracks from all major and many indie labels which are compatible with more than 50 portable devices. The free software download offers an integrated package of a digital music store, music club subscription service, streaming radio, management tools and music discovery options.

"We set huge goals with Virgin Digital, bringing the excitement and customer-focused experience of a Virgin Megastore directly to the world of digital entertainment," Zack Zalon, president of Virgin Digital told the Hollywood Reporter. Purchased tracks are 99 cents and come with some rights for burning and transferring. The Virgin Digital Music Club option is a subscription at $7.99 a month for unlimited access to stream the entire catalog and downloads that expire should the subscription lapse.

Launch Offers New Band Promo Competition

Emerging artists are getting a new promo channel with the debut of Who's Next? -- a showcase and competition from Yahoo!'s Launch. Four acts will be offered for fan consideration each month. Whichever band receives the most votes will film a live performance at the Launch studios and a streaming video of that performance will be featured on Launch's Who's Next? page. The first round will invite fans to choose from Reprise Records' pop-goth My Chemical Romance, Hollywood's pop rockers Ingram Hill, Lava's Australian ohn Butler Trio and Vagrant's emo favs Senses Fail. The winner will be announced Oct. 6.

hypebot: Why must it always be a competition?

Could IM Save Music?

Cnet.com and other online watchers are reporting that Yahoo, Microsoft and others are planning to use their online chat software to help push music downloads and compete with iTunes. But they are not just planning to use the IM ad space to push songs. They going to be imbedding new technologies that would allow those using IM to also share playlists, listen together, and then instantly buy a tune.

At a press conference last month, MSN's corporate vice president Yusuf Mehdi specifically described a scenario in which two IM chatters could listen to each other's playlists and then buy the songs if they wanted too. With last week's acquisition by Yahoo of Musicmatch as well as Yahoo's plans to launch their own music service, Net watchers are now speculating that Yahoo has similar plans.

These plans are a viral marketer's dream as word of mouth on a hot new band or tune can spread globally among like minded friends and associates in a matter of hours. And while we're certain that enterprising labels will find some way to exploit this, it really does potentially put more power back in the hands of the people to discover new music.

REM Partners With MySpace For Promo

They have trouble getting played on corporate radio these days. but still talented multiplatinum alternative rockers R.E.M. have found a home on the web. They've partnered with social netorking portal MySpace.com to preview their new album starting yesterday.

For the next two weeks, visitors to MySpace will be able to play tracks from R.E.M.'s upcoming Warner Bros. release "Around the Sun" for free. The preview also has links to tour dates, an iTunes clips sampler, photos mobile ring tones and wallpapers on a dedicated site powered by m-Qube.

Emusic Re-launches

Kudos to former Indy artist manager Bullethead (Mojo Nixon) and his compadres @ eMusic, one of the first online music download services, as they re-launch today with a new look but the same core goal of reaching music fans beyond the mainstream.

EMusic licenses tracks from independent labels and artists and then helps bring that music to the world. Its library of about 500,000 songs is drawn from more than 3,700 labels. Indies on other services struggle for attention, managing director Dave Packman told the Hollywood Reporter and fans can't find them "unless they already know enough about them to look for it."

Pricing for monthly subscriptions is in three tiers: 40 songs for $10, 65 songs for $15, and 90 songs for $20 after an initial free trial period that includes 50 songs. The tracks are recorded as MP3's, virtually eliminating hardware compatibility problems, and are unfettered by copy protection technology.

Does Price Matter? New Discount Download Site To Launch

If you've traveled much in Europe you've probably come across the EASY brand and their bright orange logos. Best known for easyJet a deep discount intra-European carrier that puts Southwest to shame with no frills, fun marketing, and stupidly low prices. Or maybe you know them from easyCar rentals, their easyInternet chain of oversized Internet cafés, or one of their travel sites.

These same savvy marketers are about to launch a music download service. CEO Haji-Ioannou said the new easyMusic.com service would make its debut this fall selling the catalogue of Wippit, a music download company based in London. Wippit has a growing catalogue of nearly 200,000 songs from EMI, Sony-BMG and a number of independent labels. The easyMusic service will be available worldwide for Wippit and easyGroup customers, who will be able to download songs at .25 pence (45 cents) each and some songs of unsigned artists for free.

P2P News: Emusic Gets Makeover & Napster Goes Public

FMQB reports that "Two of the old school members of the digital download world are making some changes in the near future. "

"Emusic will relaunch their subscription service this Wednesday, with a new focus on independent labels. Songs will also be unprotected, unlike tracks bought from iTunes or MSN Music. According to CNet, the service will also be re-designed and include new features such as recommendations from both music writers and other eMusic users. The service will carry more than just lesser-known artists, with songs from Beck, Ray Charles, Moby, and many more. eMusic was recently purchased by Dimensional Associates, who own a variety of music industry ventures."

"The grandaddy of digital music, Napster which will become publicly traded as soon as October. Last month, Napster's parent company Roxio sold off its other holdings to eventually change the company over to just Napster. It will trade on the Nasdaq stock exchange as NAPS."

Miscrosoft May Align With Majors For CD Copy Protection

CNET and MusicAlly have both reported talks between Microsoft and major record labels about the software company's hoped for support of CD copy-protection technologies in its upcoming "Longhorn" Windows operating system, the successor to Windows XP expected to come out in late 2006.

The labels are hoping that Microsoft will integrate technology in its operating system that recognizes a copy-protected disc and prevents unauthorized uses, instead of current technologies that are relegated to software placed on the CD itself. A meeting planned this week is expected to begin negotiations.

It's hard to imagine the benefit that Microsoft would receive for getting in bed with the major labels that would compensate foe the backlash from a public that wants the freedom to use and transport their music however they see fit.

Microsoft's Radio Plus Clones Favorite Local Stations

In a move that must have radio programmer’s angry if not worried, Microsoft’s subscription net broadcasting service RadioOne began cloning many over the air broadcasters like NYC’s Z100 and LA’s famed KROQ by mimicking their play lists sans all of the annoying commercials and hype. Because these net stations are promoted as “like KROQ” and use publicly available monitored play lists, Microsoft appears to skirt any copyright issues and deliver a product that many should find attractive.

While the numbers listening to net broadcasters are currently small, they will continue to grow as broadband, Wi-Fi, and wired homes all become ubiquitous. Most believe that when true “anywhere” wireless access becomes available making net streams portable this medium will explode.

So while broadcasters may currently only be annoyed by Microsoft’s moves, they need to wake up before it’s too late. While monitored play lists make these stations possible what really enabled Microsoft’s moves were old school broadcasters who continue to ignore the potential to extend their brand by delivering alternative experiences to their listeners.

The Coalition Of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) has railed for some time against labels who provide what they call Superior Products like limited edition CD’s with bonus tracks or earlier street dates to their big box competitors like Best Buy. Increasingly they’ve been taking action by boycotting or punishing labels who provide these incentives to other retailers.

Is this practice just smart marketing or an unfair business practice? We admit to being a bit torn on that issue, but are certain that anything that hurts these kind of smart indy retailers is a dumb move for record labels. These are the stores where records start and where street buzz is built.

Here is a “policy” that CIMS published this week to fight back:

We (CIMS member stores) will enforce a label “non grata” period of not less than 2 weeks.

Label Non Grata will be subject to:

1. No out of bin placement for any artist on the label.
2. No sale pricing for any artist on the label.
3. No displays, contests, or other awareness programs for any artist on the
4. No reporting of sales or chart position for artists on the label.
5. We reserve the right to return, without penalty or delay, any product by
the affected artist.
6. Time period will escalate for subsequent incidents.

There has been much dialogue on this subject, yet despite assures to the contrary, the practice continues to be an issue. It is our hope that this policy will be a step in the right direction for a stronger partnership between the retail and label communities.

XM Launches Onlime Music Service

XM has unveiled XM Radio Online, an Internet music service to debut in early October. As part of the launch, eligible Dell customers who purchase Dell Inspiron notebook or Dimension desktop computers will get a free 30-day trial offer for the online music service.

XM Radio Online subscribers will be able to listen to its commercial-free music channels and other XM content over the Internet for a monthly fee of $ 7.99. XM Satellite Radio subscribers will receive a discounted rate for XM Radio Online of $3.99 a month.

54% of Cell Phones Will Double As Digital Music Players By 2009

Cell phones capable of storing and playing digital music will grow to account for 54% of the global market by 2009, when high-speed 3G cellular networks are more widely deployed, according to a report from Boston-based market research firm Strategy Analytics.

The firm pointed to Nokia's 3300 and 5510 handsets, as well as Motorola's alliances with MTV and Apple to illustrate the growing interest in such devices. It also predicts that MP3 will remain a requisite format even on cell phones. "Music will be a 'bridesmaid' value-add mostly found on converged devices and high end camera phones until 3G services are more widely deployed," said Strategy Analytics analyst Chris Ambrosio. "Then, it is up to device vendors to make significant improvements in sound quality reproduction, storage capacity, wireless-fixed connectivity, and the user interface to make cellular music a broader reality."

Yahoo Aquires Musicmatch

Yahoo has announced that it will acquire Musicmatch, a provider of music jukebox software and subscription services, for $160 million in cash. Founded in 1997, San Diego-based Musicmatch's jukebox software. Its music subscription services which include both Internet radio and a download service count a combined 225,000 subscribers. Yahoo said the merger will increase the reach of its music-related services from 12.9 million to an estimated 23 million listeners. Yahoo_3 "This combination bolsters our strategy to capture the largest audience of consumers as they make the shift to digital music and supports Yahoo's goal to give consumers the greatest choice, control and flexibility in how they interact with their music," said Yahoo CEO Terry Semel. "This acquisition is one of several product innovations and new initiatives in which Yahoo will invest to build our music portfolio this year and in the future." Yahoo also acquired Launch, a provider of music videos and song streaming, for $12 million in 2001. The company still faces stiff competition in the digital music market from current download retail leader Apple, and rival services from Microsoft, Sony, Wal-Mart and others

Global Music Sales Fell 7.6% in 2003. Fourth Year Of Decline.

Sales of recorded music worldwide fell 7.6% in 2003, the fourth consecutive year of decline, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Total sales were 2.7 billion units valued at $32 billion, down $6.2 billion from 1999 totals. The IFPI cited CD burning and illegal music downloading as the primary reason for the decline, along with competition from video games and DVDs as well as economic uncertainty in Latin America and Asia.

Universal was once again the top-selling record label, although its market share fell from 25.4% in 2002 to 23.5% last year. EMI topped Sony to become the #2 label in the world with 13.4% of market share. Sony claimed 13.2%, and Warner 12.7%. Bertelsmann, who has just merged with Sony accounted for 11.9% of the world market.

Major Label Heads Beg Corporate America For Branding Help

In a move that reminds us of how just hot "corporate" the music business has become, executives from all of the major labels will meet at Caroline's in New York City this week for a first ever group presentation of their upcoming new releases to the marketing teams of major US companies like Pepsi, Verizon, and Motorola in an effort to secure branding opportunities.

Hosted by Blue Flame ( co-owned by P. Diddy) and entertainment marketing company Alliance, the day will also feature Atlantic Records chairman Jason Flom as a was a featured speaker. Flom was instrumental in planning the event. "I've spent a great deal of time trying to get in touch with the people who are going to be in that room," Flom told the New York Post. "I think it's a big win for everyone. I think the future is going to hold enormous potential for partnerships between record companies and advertisers."

This event is modeled after a page a yearly ritual between television networks and corporate America.
"We felt it was time for both worlds to come together and understand the language of each other, Alliance president and CEO Jarrod Moses told the Post. "Both artists and labels are more open now to seeing how branding works."

hypebot:While we've never minded the pairing of the right artist with just the right brand, there is something sad about the image of the guys who choose what music gets released and promoted standing in front of a room of big biz suits begging to place their artists with anybody who has a checkbook. Music is about passion and emotion. C0-marketing opportunities that hit the same emotional chords work anything less can ruin an artist's career. We wonder if anyone at the majors still has the guts to say no to a big check from the wrong brand. We doubt it.

Video Concert Streaming For Indy Bands

Hypebot.com readers may be interested to note a new service that offers concert webcasting of entire shows on pay-per-view basis. Instead of streaming shows live, thereby limiting viewing potential, Indie-Concerts.tv is archiving shows from around the world into a database for viewers to search, preview, or pay-per-view at a nominal charge. Artists will receive royalties per stream.

This service’s primary goal is to promote Indie artists to agents, venues, managers, and an audience they would not have otherwise. In addition, it is designed for agents, etc. to easily search, and/or promote talent. Weblinks to the artist’s sites will also be in the database.

Concert footage, and booking agents are being sought now. Indie-Concerts.tv says “no matter where you are, one will be able to at any time view concerts from around the world without leaving home.”

WHO SAYS PRICE DOESN'T MATTER? Real Networks Sells 3 Million Tracks In 3 Weeks

realRealNetworks has announced that music fans purchased more than 3 million songs during the three-week 49 cents per track promotion celebrating the company's new Harmony Technology, and said it would continue to offer some of the most popular downloadable tunes for just 49 cents per song.

The tracks to be offered at discount will be chosen in conjunctio with RollingStone.com. Each week, the Rolling Stone and Rhapsody editorial teams will compile the list, which will offer consumers ten of today's most popular and noteworthy songs for 49 cents each. The Rolling Stone Top 10 list will be based on a combination of Rolling Stone hot lists, the most popular songs played each week on the Rhapsody subscription service and the top downloads at the RealPlayer Music Store.

Like each of the more than 640,000 songs available through the RealPlayer Music Store, the Rolling Stone Top 10 is available in high quality 192 kbps RealAudio 10 with AAC. Music purchased from the RealPlayer Music Store is the only DRM-protected digital music available that can be played on all popular portable devices, including all Windows Media DRM-enabled devices, all Apple iPods and all Helix DRM-enabled mobile devices.

The inaugural Rolling Stone Top 10 list unveiled today includes:

-- Triple Trouble, Beastie Boys
-- Turn Me On, Kevin Lytle
-- Off With Your Head, Sleater-Kinney
-- Let Me In, Young Buck
-- My Place, Nelly
-- She Will be Loved, Maroon 5
-- Float On, Modest Mouse
-- You Don't Know Me, Ray Charles
-- The Revolution Starts Now, Steve Earle
-- Date With the Night (live), Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Portable Internet Radio Service For MP3 Players Launchee In Europe

FMQB reports that that web-based Audio Feast Inc. has rolled out the first portable internet radio service, delivering some 400 channels of news, sports and entertainment radio programming in a format for MP3 players, mobile devices and PCs. The company also announced plans to add portable music to its subscription service in October.

"Our goal is to re-ignite the passion consumers once felt for radio programming, and deliver that experience on a portable player in high fidelity," Audio Feast's Co-Founder/CEO Tom Carhart tells DME. "Although the market for MP3 players and online music services has undergone explosive growth in recent years, the task of searching for compelling content and loading it on a portable player is still a difficult, time-consuming and expensive process for consumers."

The media distribution system called the Virtual Broadcast Network delivers radio programming to a variety of portable devices, and over several networks. Audio Feast has already licensed content from more than 70 media partners including A&E, Bloomberg Radio, BBC Radio, Discovery Channel, History Channel, NPR, SportsNews Radio and The Wall Street Journal Radio Network. As the service expands in the coming weeks, another 100 channels of music will be added, including Pop, Jazz, Electronica, Trance, R&B, Rock, Alternative, Classical genres and more. The Network enables Audio Feast to manage and secure digital content in varying formats, then delivers it digitally to consumers. A one-year subscription for programming costs $49.95. Pricing for Audio Feast's music service will be announced in October.

Have It Your Way: Free Music

AOL, Burger King Offer Free Music Download Promotion

AOL and Burger King announced Wednesday that they've partnered to offer free digital music downloads to Burger King customers, in a promotion similar to one featuring rival McDonald's and Sony's Connect music service.

Through Oct. 3, Burger King customers will geat a code redeemable for a free download from AOL Music with every purchase of a Whopper sandwich. AOL Music offers 700,000 tracks through MusicNet, an online music joint venture between AOL and a number of record labels. The McDonald's promotion offered a free download from Connect with every Big Mac Extra Value Meal purchase.

hypebot: Not original but still very smart. And a smart label would give a free bonus track of a similar new artist away as well...


weaThis (we believe authentic) memo from Lyor Cohen of WMG has been circulationg around the net:

Dear Partners,

I want to share with you the news that Warner Music Group has launched a new creative initiative known as the incubator system. This initiative will enable the Music Group to take an innovative approach to forming relationships with independent labels and artists, assisting them in the development of both their artistic and executive talent by offering a variety of services, resources and mentoring that many young labels and artists do not have access to.

The mission of the incubator system is to develop the independent music executives and artists of tomorrow, with the ultimate goal of identifying promising new artists who have the potential to be superstars at our own labels and to create long-term relationships with the country's most pioneering entrepreneurs.

The system will focus on both rock and urban music, and is highly flexible in that the array of services and resources we are offering can be tailored to the specific needs and priorities of the individual labels and artists.

The process of identifying which independent labels and which artists we want to work with will be a collaborative effort involving our labels and a small but extraordinarily talented group of WMG executives who will run the incubator effort.

The incubator system will be led on the rock side by Fred Feldman, the founder of Triple Crown Records, who has signed and developed such artists as Brand New, Hot Rod Circuit and Northstar. Fred, the former president of Fat Beats Records and general manager of Profile Records, has also worked with artists
including Atmosphere, J-Live, Run DMC, Rob Base, 2nd II None and DJ Quik.

Fred will work closely with Andy Allen, president of our own Alternative Distribution Alliance. When Andy joined ADA from his role as general manager of Island Records in 1994, the company was but one year old. Since then, Andy has grown ADA into the premiere independent distribution company in the U.S. and is
ideally suited to support Fred, while continuing to run ADA.

Todd Moscowitz, who has been at Violator Management for the past three years, will head up the urban incubator (known as Asylum). At Violator, he has worked with artists including Missy Elliott, 50 Cent and Lil' Mo. Prior to joining Violator, Todd was head of Rush Communications and later general manager of Def Jam Records where he spent several years in business affairs and in marketing and promotion.

Working alongside Todd at Asylum will be Ron Spaulding, who joined WEA in 2003 and most recently has served as Senior VP of Sales. Ron is a veteran sales executive with a proven ability to market releases in multiple genres. He joined WMG from Priority Records in 2000 as Senior VP for Sales at Elektra Entainment Group, where he oversaw the sales and retail marketing programs for such artists as Missy Elliott, Staind, Metallica, Tweet and Phish, among others.

Fred, Todd and Ron will report to WEA Corp.'s President John Esposito, rounding out a superb lineup of executive talent. They are poised to do fantastic things with our new incubator system, and this will inevitably lead to a strengthening of our own roster. I trust that you will provide them with your ideas,
support and full cooperation.

Lyor Cohen

hypebot: Since we applaud the concept (experienced industry folk mentoring and providing opportunities for upstart music entrepeneurs and artists), why does this memo make us a tad nervous for those who might get involved? It's because it feels like the same old crap: the suits are just finding jobs for their buds who will give the same old sad advice to a few would-be suits. Isn't that the kind of thinking that got this business into such a mess in the first place. No offense to those hired; but come on Lyor you are a very bright guy. Why not look outside of the Hollywood beltway to some of the folks who are doing amazing things with less money than you spend on dry cleaning?

U.S. Copyright Office Drafts New Version of Induce Act

CNET News.com reports that the U.S. Copyright Office has drafted its own revision of the "Induce Act," a controversial bill designed to ban file-sharing networks and any other device that might "induce" one to commit copyright infringement. The Copyright Office draft would limit somewhat the broader terms of Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) original draft, which critics have said could in theory ban devices like the iPod or even the PC. Mike Godwin, of the "fair use" advocacy group Public Knowledge, was still skeptical of the Copyright Office's revisions. "I think one can read it through pretty carefully and not be sure who will be liable and who isn't. One thing we would like to get out of this process is that if a bill is going to be passed, it's going to be clear," Godwin told CnetNews.com.


The Convergence Continues: iPods in Euro BMW's

bmwApple has announced that it would team up with BMW, the second-largest luxury car maker in the world, to equip the German firm's cars in Europe with the iPod as early as this fall. Apple said drivers of the BMW X3, X5, 3 Series and Z4 would be to select songs without taking their hands from the steering wheel, which will come with an iPod control built into it. Other BMW models will be able to connect an iPod to the car's stereo, but will not come equipped with the built in steering-wheel control, the company said.

Microsoft Unleases Three Way Attack To Control Media Marketplace

mslogo6487dcIn a major (and long expected) move to integrate and control how we purchase and enjoy music, film, and all digital media Microsoft has just announced:

WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER 10 - A free download that includes these new features:

Sleek New Design. A streamlined and sleek new design delivers a fresh new look and improved ease of use, including faster access to top Player tasks. The most important Player features are now in a more prominent position in the library, enabling you to accomplish everyday digital media tasks all in one convenient place and to take advantage of the powerful capabilities of the Player while browsing the library.

Choice of Online Stores. Introducing the first "Digital Media Mall," enabling you to discover, download, rent, or stream music and video within the Player from a choice of online stores. These stores benefit from deeper integration with and customization within the Player to enhance their functionality and ease of use.

Enhanced Device Support. A wide selection of devices are supported with this release, including a host of current portable music players and new Portable Media Center devices that will be available later this year. A major component of this rich device support includes a new feature called Auto Sync that enables the seamless, automatic synchronization of music, video, and even recorded TV and photos to supported portable devices.

Improved All-in-One Smart Jukebox. The Windows Media Player 10 technical beta builds upon the award-winning Windows Media Player 9 Series technology, delivering fast and flexible playback, improved audio and video quality, and smart jukebox features designed to save you time and effort.

THE PORTABLE MEDIA CENTER which resembles Microsoft's Windows Media Center OS for PCs, with a very similar user interface, but it's designed to be used with a small-screen device. Portable Media Center devices, which will be designed and manufactured by Microsoft's hardware partners, have hard drives for storing and playing back media files. "This is an entirely new category of devices," says James Bernard, lead product manager with Microsoft's Portable Media Centers group. "They are not meant to replace audio players. There will always be people with audio players."

THE MSN MUSIC STORE following in the footsteps of iTunes, MusicMatch and others. Hypebot's first look found few if any distinguishing features.

The real story is not in any one of these initiatives by Microsoft, but in how they fit together. Ease of use is exactly what most music and media consumers have been looking for. SCORE 1 POINT: GATES.

Contdown To Microsoft Music Downlaods


Stay tuned for the latest chapter in Bill Gate's march toward's world domination... In the meantime learn a bit more about Miscrosoft's music plans from this International Herald Tribune article.