Microsoft Corp. has announced the launch of Ignition, a new program that gives recording artists with new releases a unique channel to reach tens of millions of consumers, whether they are browsing music online, playing games or catching up on the latest news.
For the first time, Microsoft has packaged promotional opportunities across Zune, Xbox and MSN to help artists more efficiently reach consumers in all three audiences.
In a world where high-impact promotional opportunities for new music can be limited, artists look for ways to make direct connections with their audience and leave a lasting impression. Ignition maximizes exposure for artists by engaging consumers with interesting content and reaching them frequently over a monthlong period through prominent placement on Zune Marketplace, Zune.net, MSN entertainment properties and the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. For consumers, Ignition provides a steady stream of new music through online access to exclusive content, free song and video downloads, streaming video, editorial features, and artist playlists.
“The Ignition program is designed to help artists connect with a substantial consumer audience,” said Christina Calio, director of Music Marketing for Zune. “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.”
The Ignition program launches with the U.K. band Maxïmo Park (Warp Records/Caroline Distribution), whose current album, ‘Our Earthly Pleasures,’ debuted at No. 2 on the U.K. charts in April and is receiving significant radio airplay for its single “Girls Who Play Guitars.”
Throughout the month of June, Ignition will introduce new U.S. fans to this popular U.K. band through free and exclusive music downloads and features on Zune Marketplace and Zune.net, video downloads on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, and promotional video and music streams on MSN Video and MSN Music. Specific Maxïmo Park promotions include the following:
Zune Marketplace and Zune.net
• “Our Velocity” featured as a free download on Zune Marketplace
• “Don McPhee” offered to U.S. audiences as an exclusive track for two weeks on Zune Marketplace
• Playlist of 10 favorite tracks from Maxïmo Park lead singer Paul Smith available for download on Zune Marketplace
• Maxïmo Park’s personal commentary on “Our Earthly Pleasures,” featuring song-by-song descriptions and comments
• Maxïmo Park-specific page on Zune.net promoting the band’s current activities
Xbox LIVE Marketplace
• Promotional video download of “Our Velocity” offered at no cost to Xbox LIVE subscribers
• Promotional video stream of “Our Velocity” on MSN Video
• Listening parties for “Our Earthly Pleasures” during the first two weeks of June on MSN Music, which will allow consumers to listen to the entire album via streaming audio for free
“We’re excited to have Maxïmo Park be the first artist taking part in Microsoft’s Ignition program,” said Priyanka Dewan, product manager at Warp Records. “When you’re a band that is attempting to move to the next level of success, opportunities like this to connect with a significant audience are important. The simultaneous promotion across Zune, MSN and Xbox is great exposure for the band.”
The launch of Ignition adds a powerful new element to existing Zune music programs such as “On the Road,” which has been providing financial and tactical support for touring artists that include CSS, LCD Soundsystem, Ladytron and MIMS, as well as “Artist of the Week,” which provides a weekly spotlight of one major artist release in Zune Marketplace.