Microsoft Will Promote Recording Artists Across Zune, MSN, and Xbox

In what it’s calling a first ever cross-platform promotion for the company, Microsoft is launching a new program for emerging music artists featured on its Zune player across MSN, as well as through the Xbox Live game system.

Called Ignition, each month-long promotional program will feature new releases from emerging musicians across the platforms in the forms of banner ads, special downloads, videos, and other features. The artists themselves are chosen by the Zune staff, headed by Director of Music Marketing Christina Calio. It’s being kicked with a promotion of U.K. band Maxïmo Park.

Using these separate but related platforms run a single promotion is a new tactic for the Redmond company, according to Microsoft spokesperson Sara Ball.

“If you look at the entertainment and devices division of Microsoft, it’s isolated from other parts of Microsoft like MSN. For the first time, Microsoft has packaged all the promotional capabilities of Microsoft across several platforms,” Ball said. “They are expanding the audience through leveraging their platforms and helping their emerging artists to reach more people.”

Microsoft’s Zune player continues to struggle as compared to the more widely known Apple iPod music player, but Ball insists Ignition is more about promoting the artists than it is about marketing Zune on the more widely used Xbox gaming platform or on MSN sites.

“In the case of Zune, it’s where people are very passionate about music, and it’s marrying that passion and expertise and engaging other people to discover that with an established and strong network of platforms across Microsoft,” she said.

Ignition joins existing Zune music programs such as “On the Road,” which provides financial and tactical support for touring artists, and “Artist of the Week,” a weekly spotlight of a major artist release in the Zune Marketplace.

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