CMT extended its reach into the digital world Wednesday (May 17) when MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc., and Microsoft Corp. unveiled the public beta versions of URGE and the new Windows Media® Player 11.
URGE, MTV Networks’ new digital music service, is seamlessly integrated with the new Microsoft® Windows Media Player 11 and builds upon MTV Networks’ renowned music heritage to offer rich, handcrafted programming, first-rate editorial content and innovative music discovery features to create a truly immersive entertainment experience. URGE is the recommended digital music service in Windows Media Player 11 beta, which offers enhanced search and media management capabilities, a visually driven user interface and optimized portable music player support. MTV Networks and Microsoft collaborated closely on the development of URGE and Windows Media Player 11, creating a unified and integrated user experience.
Just as CMT, MTV and VH1 are recognized for their ability to curate music, URGE offers unparalleled context to all styles of music, as well as rich music programming to guide users through a world of virtually infinite music choices. Innovative features also bring music discovery to the fore, exposing users to new artists and genres they might not otherwise encounter.
“When we first set out to design URGE, our goal was to create an immersive experience that surrounded fans in all things music,” said Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music/Logo/Films Group. “URGE distinguishes itself through handcrafted programming, innovative music discovery features and unique integration with Windows Media Player 11. It’s an important pillar of MTV Networks’ overall digital strategy, and as our audience continues to embrace digital music delivery, URGE will serve as a vital vehicle to connect fans with all the music they love.”
“We wanted to create a media player that delivers the most powerful features in a program that is intuitive and fun to use,” said Mike Sievert, corporate vice president of Windows Client Marketing at Microsoft. “So in designing Windows Media Player 11, we incorporated a significant amount of feedback from music fans and worked hand in hand with MTV Networks. As a result, Windows Media Player 11 truly revolutionizes the way we enjoy music and provides a test drive of the breakthrough entertainment capabilities people will experience in the forthcoming Windows Vista™ operating system.”
URGE allows users to simply buy music by the track or album and goes well beyond the concept of a storefront through music subscriptions by promoting the twin concepts of exploration and discovery.
Among the features are Informer music blogs written by leading voices in music to celebrate nearly every genre of music — country, pop, hip-hop, children’s, classical, jazz, electronic/dance, world, inspirational and more. Each blog is accompanied by a dynamic playlist to enable users to simultaneously listen to or download the music they are reading about.
Additionally, URGE offers more than 500 custom-made playlists programmed to reflect “Must-Haves” (the best in given style), moods, decades, cities and more. URGE’s “This Week In … ” series features new music each week across all genres, which a user can save to an automatically updating Feed. “Super Playlists” offer hundreds of songs in a given genre or to fill up a portable music player in one click. Popular on-air programs including CMT’s Top Twenty Countdown, MTV’s Total Request Live and VH1’s Best Week Ever will have dedicated and regularly updated playlists. Celebrity playlists include offerings from such artists as Rosanne Cash, Green Day, Rihanna, Tony Hawk, T.I., Mike Myers and many others.
Through URGE’s Feeds, music fans will be able to sign up for dynamically updated playlists of the music they love and get new — and sometimes surprising — music delivered right to their computer or portable music player. Every time consumers visit URGE or sync their portable player, they will enjoy new music from their Feeds that have updated. URGE also offers Auto Mixes, automatically generated playlists built around specific artists or styles of music selected by the user and refreshed every time the user accesses the service.
With a rich array of other features, URGE will offer editorial content and radio stations aimed directly at music fans. Exclusive interviews, stories and features about music and artists across all genres will be complemented by more than 130 professionally programmed, CD-quality radio stations spanning all musical genres, such as jazz, hip-hop, metal, country and classical, including the popular CMT, VH1 Classic and mtvU radio stations. To simplify navigation on the site, CMT, MTV and VH1 and CMT each live on URGE in exclusive Channel Hubs featuring music programming, playlists, Informer blogs and more.
Windows Media Player 11 is designed to provide an entirely new digital media experience. The collaboration between Microsoft and MTV Networks has resulted in unprecedented integration of URGE within Windows Media Player 11 and an entirely new level of performance when managing large music libraries. With Windows Media Player 11, consumers can easily scroll through and access music faster than on any other media player, whether the library contains 50 or 50,000 tracks. Windows Media Player 11’s powerful Instant Search provides results that instantly narrow with each keystroke, whether in a personal library or browsing URGE. Innovative drag-and-drop capabilities make building playlists and moving music to portable players easier than ever.
Other features of the beta version of Windows Media Player 11 include:
•A visually driven experience using thumbnail and album art, an elegant and simple design and customization capabilities for more personalized interaction
•Highly simplified navigation using the new Instant Search capabilities, enhanced shortcut options and dedicated category views for all media types, including music, photos and video
•Better access to content with deep service integration that blurs the line between online service and media player experiences
•Industry-first audio fingerprinting capabilities for advanced music metadata tagging
•New formats for ripping and music playback, including Windows Media Audio (WMA) Professional and WAV Lossless
•Improved device experience with new shuffle sync and reverse sync options, device exploration using the library view, and intuitive help icons that ensure seamless and intuitive syncing and burning of rights-managed content
Beginning immediately, URGE is being offered through a 14-day free trial, available to anyone at any time. The trial, which does not require a credit card, lets music fans play and download unlimited music from URGE’s catalog of 2 million songs, transfer tracks to a portable music player and enjoy the unmatched programming that distinguishes URGE.
URGE offers three flexible options that enable music fans to enjoy digital music in a manner that best fits their lifestyle:
URGE All Access — This option, for $9.95 (all prices are U.S.) per month or $99 per year (with two months free), enables users to play or download 2 million full-length songs, enjoy 130 commercial-free CD-quality radio stations and more than 500 playlists and save Feeds of automatically updating playlists.
URGE All Access to Go — For $14.95 per month or $149 per year (with two months free), this option offers the same features as URGE All Access and the ability to transfer subscription music to compatible portable music players.
URGE by the Track — Consumers can purchase individual tracks for 99 cents or purchase entire albums or playlists (prices vary). Users also can manage their digital music collection, rip and burn CDs, search and sample the song catalog, enjoy 20 free radio stations and access URGE editorial features, profiles, interviews and Informer blogs.
Over the course of the beta period, both Windows Media Player 11 and URGE will continue to evolve.