CMT Is Part of MTV Networks’ New Digital Music Service

URGE Combines Strengths of Microsoft, CMT, MTV and VH1

CMT’s parent company, MTV Networks, and Microsoft Corporation have announced their collaboration on the design and development of MTV Networks’ new digital music service called URGE.

Set to debut domestically in 2006, URGE will provide an immersive music experience and will be integrated into a forthcoming version of Microsoft® Windows Media® Player. The collaboration unites MTV Networks’ music DNA, marketing strengths and powerful CMT, MTV and VH1 brands with the technology leadership and consumer reach of Microsoft. MTV Networks is a division of Viacom Inc.

URGE will offer rich entertainment programming and innovative tools designed to guide musical discovery and connect fans to the artists and music they love. Offering more than 2 million songs from the major labels and thousands of independents, URGE will encompass all musical genres, from alt.country to zydeco. In addition to a broad catalog of music choices, URGE will deliver a deep well of exclusive MTV Networks programming and original, hand-crafted content.

URGE has garnered early support from several artists, including Gretchen Wilson.

“CMT already gives country music artists, like me, great exposure to our fans,” said Gretchen Wilson. “Now with URGE, millions more will get a chance to check country music’s rich heritage.”

MTV Networks Music Group president Van Toffler said, “We live to connect artists and fans in the most imaginative ways possible. With our new service, we will be able to satisfy music lovers’ urges for all things music. In many ways, URGE will serve as a ‘psychic concierge,’ introducing fans to new artists and helping them to develop a deeper connection to old favorites.”

“By combining our expertise in digital media with the music leadership and marketing savvy of MTV Networks, we have created a powerful and unique way to experience music,” said Blair Westlake, corporate vice president of media technology and convergence at Microsoft. “This landmark collaboration will bring innovative new experiences to millions of music fans.”

“As with everything we do at MTV Networks, every element of URGE is being developed with our audience in mind,” said Jason Hirschhorn, MTV Networks’ chief digital officer. “Beyond providing a simple transactional service, URGE will provide a musical playground where fans can explore, customize, discover and download new music.”

The music industry has been quick to call attention to the potential of URGE.

“Discovery is an important part of the music business — from tapping new talent to introducing them to new music fans,” said Clive Davis, chairman and CEO of BMG U.S. “The upcoming music service, URGE, will serve as a powerful new way to connect new and established talent to fans, turning them on to new music they otherwise may never have been exposed to.”

Lyor Cohen, chairman and CEO of U.S. recorded music for Warner Music Group, noted, “With URGE, MTV Networks is again at the forefront of revolutionizing where and how our combined audiences across the globe can connect with the music and the artists they love. URGE will join the array of powerful new platforms that provide Warner Music Group with an innovative way to launch new artists and celebrate established favorites. With MTV Networks’ expertise and global reach, it promises to be the ultimate full service music experience.”

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys said, “I grew up watching MTV, and it’s been an important part of how I connect with my fans. It’s great news that the same people who bring you MTV everyday are launching what is sure to be the deepest, richest music service on the net. URGE will be the destination for passionate music fans who want to discover and connect with the artists and music they love.”

Upon its debut next year, URGE will be promoted through multiple venues, including the CMT, MTV and VH1 channels, which on average collectively reach more than 165 million viewers U.S., as well as through the respective brands’ Web sites and Urge.com. Additional details of the new service will be unveiled in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.