MTV’s and Microsoft’s iPod-incompatible URGE online music outfit faces uphill battle

“For years, MTV Networks Inc. sat on the sidelines while Apple Computer Inc., RealNetworks Inc. and others racked up sales of music downloads. Now the cable network group that helped popularize music videos two decades ago is entering the online music fray with URGE, a new service that makes its public beta debut on Wednesday. URGE comes integrated into the newest version of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Media Player, which users of Microsoft’s Windows will receive in coming weeks as an upgrade. Prior to that, the player upgrade will be available for download at the URGE and Microsoft Web sites,” Alex Veiga reports for The Associated Press. “At launch, URGE will have more than 2 million tracks, which can be purchased individually at 99 cents or as full albums starting at around $9.95. The service also will offer unlimited downloads at a monthly rate of $9.95, or $14.95 for the ability to transfer songs to any of more than 100 compatible portable music players. Initially, URGE will also feature streaming videos, with video downloads becoming available for purchase later this year. URGE will also be the featured music service on Microsoft’s media player, which will continue to have built-in links to several other services.”

“URGE enters an online music market struggling to compete with online piracy and the dominance of Apple’s iTunes Music Store and its market-leading iPod digital music player. And like established rivals RealNetworks’ Rhapsody and Napster Inc., URGE is not compatible with Apple’s Macintosh computers or its market-leading iPod digital music player. That incompatibility, combined with the availability of music on Internet file-sharing networks, has made subscription music plans a tough sell,” Veiga reports.

Full article here.
Not only is MTV’s URGE outfit iPod-incompatible, it also excludes Mac OS X users (or those personal computer users with the most discretionary income at their disposal for things like, oh, say, multiple and repeated online music purchases, for one example). Not very smart, MTV. MTV’s entry poses little or no threat to Apple’s inclusive iTunes Music Store which serves Mac, Windows PC, and iPod users, but RealNetworks and Napster executives’ should ow ratchet up their sweating even more, if possible.

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Related articles:
Oppenheimer downgrades RealNetworks based on Microsoft’s ‘URGE’ partnership with MTV – December 15, 2005
MTV-Microsoft URGE music service not targeting iPod, iTunes users; Real CEO PlayedForSure? – December 13, 2005
MTV and Microsoft team up for new digital music service ‘URGE’ – December 13, 2005


  1. Isn’t it funny that Mtv is trying to sell music. I gave up on that channel about a decade ago since they don’t play any music anymore. Seriously, how many versions of the Real world do we need?

  2. Everyone at MTV that was involved with this should be fired immediately. It’s insane that they have never supported Mac users on their Windows Media website (MTV Canada is particularly bad for that, check it out here

    It’s insane that MTV, the music video people (although that’s debateable with all that crappy reality shows they fill their time slots with) has opted for a service that won’t support music video downloads to the premiere mobile video player iPod.

    And these geniuses are trying to target the very demographic that has the “highest interest in the iPod” (Michael Gartenberg, vice president of Jupiter Research) by ‘urging’ them to buy into a service that doesn’t support their hardware!


    To top it off most of the artists that make music these days use Apple products in their content creation. When was the last time you saw a band perform onstage with a Dell Inspiron laptop?

  3. I think it’s downright laughable how you have something that works (ITMS) which attracts all the also-runs and has-beens to try to knock them off their throne. You could call it “Attack of the Second-Stringers!” The question remains, though: why would anyone want the rest when they’ve tried the best? Honestly, how is Urge a better experience for the user? How does it out-iTunes iTunes? It doesn’t; it really doesn’t serve the user at all, and that’s why this will fail. MTV, Real, and others are marketing their names, hoping that the customers will remain as dumb as they were previously, and just lap up their product becuase of the name. Funny, that. At least MTV made their fortune by listening to the audience and supplying their needs. I wonder why they can’t do the same now?

  4. URGE strategy…start with music…get everyone loving you for your cutting edge music and music shows. Then, just when everyone is hooked pull all the music and only offer crap shows that have nothing to do with music.

  5. Frankly, the only way an outfit like M$ or MTV can win this is if they forget DRM and offer uncompressed .wav files (or iPod supported lossless). If they did this for 99¢/song or $9.95 album, they’d start chipping away at iTunes/iPod. If they don’t do this, then they are simply vying for the very slim percentage of digital music lovers who don’t have iPods. At the end of the day, M$ and MTV will split those profits somehow and that’s got to be insignificant for shareholders.

  6. DON’T dismiss this out of hand:

    URGE comes integrated into the newest version of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Media Player, which users of Microsoft’s Windows will receive in coming weeks as an upgrade.

    This is the traditional Windows monopoly challenge, and it is finally here. As more and more Windows lemmings reach for the “default” music store built right into their media player, it will be Apple’s biggest (music) challenge so far. I too hope Apple’s model can withstand due to the popularity of the iPod, its installed base, and the superiority of the Apple software/store, but this type of M$ assault has always won so far, so don’t underestimate it.

  7. MTV should be tagged with the company ‘that co-opted the already growing popularity of music video and then systematically destroyed popular music and then itself’. One really doesn’t need to think up jokes about MTV and it’s clones- they are all bad jokes with the emphasis on bad. Jerry Springer for a different demographic. They deserve each other.

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