Gigs & Bytes: Feelin’ The URGE
It’s called URGE. And it’s brought to you by MTV Networks and Microsoft.
Touting “seamless” integration between the service and Microsoft’s Media Player 11 platform, URGE promises to build upon “MTV Networks’ renowned music heritage, offering rich handcrafted programming, first-rate editorial and innovative music discovery features” such as Informer music blogs written by “leading voices in music,” custom-made playlists, feeds that update playlists, auto mixes, radio and “channel hubs” that draw content from MTV, VH1 and CMT.
Yeah, okay. But what about the actual music?
So far, URGE resembles Napster and RealNetworks’ RealMusic by offering both subscription and a la carte options. The URGE All Access To Go option costs $14.95 per month ($149 per year), and allows you to play or download all you want and tap into 130 commercial-free radio stations. Like other subscription services, you can transfer the songs to compatible portable music players, but canceling the subscription will bring an end to all that music.
URGE All Access costs less than URGE All Access To Go. Priced at $9.95 per month ($99 per year), URGE All Access gives you just about everything URGE All Access To Go offers with the exception of the “To Go” part. You can still listen to or download as much as your ears can hold. However, the songs stay on your computer and cannot be transferred to a portable device.
Then there’s URGE By The Track, which pretty much functions as the name implies – 99 cents per song. Like iTunes and Napster, you own the tracks you purchase and you can transfer them to portable devices or burn to CDs. You also get access to 20 free radio stations and various bells and whistles offered by the other two options such as editorial features, profiles, interviews and blogs. No monthly or yearly subscription plan necessary.
Right now, URGE is in beta and you can sign up for a 14-day free trial.
MTV backing certainly can’t hurt. The music channel is one of the best-known entertainment brands throughout the world. What’s more uncertain is whether the Microsoft connection will be enough to lead the charge up iTunes Hill.
Sure, Bill Gates and Company bring plenty of technological know-how to the URGE table, and the company’s Media Player is included in every copy of XP. However, Microsoft isn’t exactly the corporation everybody loves. But if someone could topple Apple from its perch atop the download kingdom, you’d be hard pressed to find two companies more capable than Microsoft and MTV Networks.