Microsoft Announce Artist Of The Month Program

Microsoft and music giant Epic Records today announced an agreement to make available a full year of exclusive artist content and high-definition music video downloads free for all Xbox 360 gamers. Over the next year, Xbox 360 and Epic Records will showcase 12 up-and-coming artists through the Artist of the Month program via the Xbox Live service. Through the alliance, millions of Xbox Live members can enter a monthly sweepstakes with a prize of gaming against some of the hottest musicians through the Xbox Live Game with Fame program.

Kicking off the AOM program on Xbox Live is British singer-songwriter Natasha Bedingfield, who recently captured her second top 10 hit in the U.S. with the smash single “Unwritten,” the follow-up to last year’s top 10 hit, “These Words.” “Unwritten,” which currently holds the No. 4 spot on the Top 40 Mainstream Airplay chart, is also exploding on iTunes, making Bedingfield the No. 3 artist overall and making the single the No. 1 most downloaded pop song.

Spotlighted as one of the biggest breakout females of 2006, Bedingfield has taken America by storm since the release of her album, “Unwritten,” garnering critical acclaim and making appearances on major TV shows as “Good Morning America,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Last Call with Carson Daly” and the ABC prime-time hit, “Dancing with the Stars.” Her music video “Unwritten” can be downloaded free on Xbox Live starting today, and a sweepstakes later this month will award a lucky winner an opportunity to play against Bedingfield during a Game with Fame session in April.

Our goal has always been to make Xbox Live a cutting-edge entertainment experience,” said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “This agreement with Epic Records offers our members exclusive artistic content directly from the source. With Artist of the Month we will be providing exactly what music-loving gamers want: brand-new, exclusive music videos that can be downloaded quickly, easily and free of charge.

The fusion of music and video games now plays a significant role in breaking artists and enhancing the video game experience; the cross-cultivation of the two mediums helps new games and new artists thrive together,” said Charlie Walk, president of Epic Records. “Through this alliance, Epic and Xbox show that we are in one business — exciting young adults and leading them to the art of discovery.

Each month Microsoft and Epic will announce the new Artist of the Month along with exclusive benefits for Xbox 360 gamers around the world. Xbox Live members will be able to download featured music videos from Xbox Live Marketplace at no additional charge and watch exclusive interviews downloaded directly to their Xbox 360 system. Further, monthly Game with Fame sessions will let Xbox Live members play games with some of the world’s most renowned celebrities, as well as enter sweepstakes offering tons of cool prizes, from Xbox 360 consoles to signed CDs.

This program really taps into the passion and excitement that surround both video gaming and music,” said Cory Llewellyn, vice president of Epic Records Digital Marketing and Promotion. “We are excited to bring our strong artist roster together with Xbox Live for a variety of great experiences for consumers.”