Microsoft Ignition to Promote Music Artists

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If there’s one thing Google and Yahoo have proven, it’s that Big Media looks to the Internet as a significant tool to promote its products and content to a wide range of demographically-desirable consumers. Redmond software giant Microsoft would like to raise its profile with those Big Media companies—and give Yahoo and Google a run for their marketing dollars. So, it’s bringing together three of its core customer groups and bundling access to them in a single package designed to appeal to the music industry. They call it Ignition.

“The Ignition program is designed to help artists connect with a substantial consumer audience,” said Christina Calio, director of Music Marketing for Zune, in a statement. “Consumers are looking for ways to find new music, and Ignition helps connect artists with potential new fans by giving them multiple opportunities to listen to, watch, or read about the artist across Microsoft’s online platforms.”

Microsoft is touting ignition as a way for artists to reach ten of millions of consumers via MIcrosoft’s MSN, Xbox, and Zune platforms, and includes placement on Zune.net, Zune marketplace, MSN entertainment, as well as Xbox Live. The first artist to be promoted via the Ignition platform is the UK’s Maxïmo Park, whose album Our Earthly Pleasures and whose single “Our Velocity” will be featured as a free music and video download for Zune Marketplace and Xbox Live users.

As much as Microsoft is positioning Ignition as a wonderful vehicle for new artists means by which music lovers can get a steady stream of new music and “exclusive online content,” don’t be fooled: Ignition ties directly into existing music promotional and marketing machines, and operates strictly on a pay-to-play basis. Artists won’t vie for promotion via Ignition: record companies and agencies will. Artists and music promoted via Ignition will be decided in the same manner Microsoft decides what feature advertising to run on its properties—through dollars offered and business partnerships—and, Ignition promotions prove successful, slots probably go for top-dollar rates. Ignition is offering month-long promotional packages, the capability to offer exclusive tracks, along with video and editorial content. And we’re sure agencies and music distributors are happy top placement on three major Microsoft properties is now available in a single package.