Microsoft Set To Launch Music Download Site

LONDON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Only four months behind schedule, Microsoft is set to launch their UK music downloading service called MSN Music.

The site was originally set to debut in July of 2009 but the product "took longer than they thought it would to get it to the high quality they wanted," Peter Bale, executive producer of MSN told the Telegraph.

The website will feature around 1 million tracks (1/10 the number of tracks in iTunes) drawn from deals between Microsoft and the four major labels: WMG, EMI, Universal and Sony BMG. In order to grab tracks, consumers will have to purchase blocks of 10 credits at a time for £7.99 ($13.22) – one credit will purchase one song so it'll break down around $1.30 per song. Tracks will be provided in both WMA and Mp3 format at 192kbps and with no DRM.

The online store is based on the same technology that Microsoft uses to power their Zune music download service in the U.S. but the computer giant cautioned that this shouldn't be taken as a harbinger of the Zune coming to the U.K.

The site will also include streamed music and virtually all of the tracks in the service will be available through streaming, free of charge.

Initially, the site will only be available as a beta to people in the U.K. and if successful, Microsoft said that it may be launched in other territories as well. Oddly, a spokesman for Microsoft appeared to want to downplay the services' launch.

"This shouldn’t be seen as a major company-wide strategic move. We are replacing a service that used to be on MSN a year ago and the service is very much confined to MSN." Peter Bale told the Telegraph. "We think reading about music and listening to music are two halves of the same thing and we wanted to offer MSN users access to a competitive download to own service – which is integrated into all of the portal’s music editorial content." – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers