MSN Accelerates Live Music Streaming Plans

MSN brokered a deal with Control Room, a company formed by the producers of AOL’s phenomenally successful Live 8 effort, to stream live music acts on MSN Video. The multi-year deal gives MSN exclusive online global live distribution rights.

MSN, which has hotly pursued live event streaming as a content development strategy, will carry performances from John Legend at Royal Albert Hall in London and John Mayer from Webster Hall in New York City. The company also holds the rights to stream the shows on other platforms, including Xbox 360 Live, MSN Messenger, Windows Media Player, and Windows Media Center Edition.

Advertisers will have the option to integrate in and around the content through display, text and streaming video ad units.

“By partnering with Control Room to add original, exclusive content, we are building an even deeper relationship with our global audience and creating significant new opportunities for advertisers,” said Rob Bennett, GM of entertainment and video services at MSN, in a statement.

Bennett hinted about the partnership as a “knee-jerk” announcement at a public appearance at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX 2.6 event yesterday. “Experiences are blending together and the consumer is blending experiences,” he said. “It is up to us to deliver content in a way they want to experience it.”

Control Room was formed a year ago as Network LIVE, and has put on about 59 shows. It’s partners have included AOL, XM and sports and entertainment company AEG. To signify the importance of the exclusive partnership, and the exit of its original joint venture stakeholders, the company on Tuesday changed its name from Network LIVE to Control Room. A source at the company said the name is more relevant to its business.

Music, and in particular live music events, is an area of interest for MSN and Microsoft as a whole. It sponsored the New Orleans Jazz Festival this spring, and previously dedicated space for Mark Burnett’s “Rock Star: INXS. Microsoft’s gaming group also began featuring Epic Records recording artists each month on Xbox Live, with unique content in high definition.

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