Zune Launches Artist Podcasts
In an effort to take on the Apple iPod behemoth, Microsoft will launch an artist-focused podcast for their Zune media player today available on the Zune marketplace. The first podcast will feature backstage interviews with rapper, Common. In addition, users will be able to download a free video of the title track from Common’s upcoming album Universal Mind Control, now scheduled for release November 11, after a series of postponements.
Common’s podcast is the first in a larger series titled “The Green Room.” Reported in late August, Microsoft designed the Green Room to “feature unique and informative one-on-one backstage interviews with today’s most compelling artists.” In the future, the company expects to make interview podcasts of Oasis, T.I., Dierks Bentley, Seun Kuti and Janelle Monáe available. There is no word on whether Microsoft will combine these interviews with additional free content.
The Green Room follows the release of other Microsoft initiatives that are working to differentiate the Zune media player from the industry leading iPod. The Zune player has carved its niche by catering to music fans looking to explore new music and build up their collection. Its “Zune Channels” program offers personalized music recommendations, while its monthly subscription fee allows users to stream an unlimited amount of music on their player. Subscribers can also stick to the more traditional method of site use and purchase tracks individually. Other programs such as “Xbox Game Central” and “Hits Collections” add diversity to Zune user’s music collection by providing playlists of game-related music or top selling hits from previous decades. Despite these efforts to differentiate themselves from the competition, it is too early to tell what effect these initiatives will have on Zune’s fight as a legitimate contender in the media player marketplace.