MSN Launches Music Download Service

NEW YORK Microsoft’s MSN tomorrow plans to unveil its online music service, which will rival similar offerings from Apple Computer’s iTunes, RealNetworks, Sony and Napster from Roxio, among others.

The launch of the downloadable music store was expected [Adweek, March 26]. Currently in “preview” or beta mode, MSN Music will roll out the final version later fall, likely mid-October, according to an MSN representative.

The new offering, available at beta.music.msn.com, allows people to download music from a library of more than 1 million tracks for 99 cents per song or $9.99 per album and listen to their selections on Windows Media compatible devices. MSN Music also includes search capabilities, online streaming via MSN Radio and features for sharing recommendations with friends.

The only advertising that currently exists on the MSN Music site is keyword-search ads from Yahoo!-owned Overture, however that doesn’t speak to future opportunities, the MSN rep said.

An MSN campaign breaking this fall is expected to promote the Redmond, Wash.-based Internet property’s new music offering, among other features, including its communications services and search product.