MSN revamps Music site, offers free downloads

Microsoft said Monday that it refurbished its MSN Music site, allowing users to download and share some music for free while offering more personalized services via enhanced My Music pages.

While the revamped site boasts expanded concert information and ticket sales, and updated personalized pages that generate music recommendations and reviews, perhaps the most alluring new feature is the MSN Music Download Center.

MSN users will be able to download free promotional songs from popular artists such as Incubus and the Indigo Girls, the company said. Users can listen to the downloads for as long as the promotion is valid and can share the music by e-mailing the download links to friends.

This service complements the Pressplay music subscription service, which is also available on the site. Pressplay is one of a host of new online subscription services jockeying for position in the booming online music market. The service offers music streaming, downloads and CD burning for a monthly fee.

MSN Music users can also take advantage of updated My Music pages, which allow users to enter music preferences and rate favorites in order to get radio station and concert recommendations tailored to their tastes. Users can also purchase concert tickets through direct links to Ticketmaster.

Given the popularity of online music, it is little surprise that Microsoft is updating its offerings in this category. The recent emergence of a range of online music providers is also turning up the heat on the online heavyweight, which must address the needs of a large and demanding user base.The MSN Network has over 270 million users worldwide, and according to Microsoft, the site is growing faster than any other U.S. portal.

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Scarlet Pruitt

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