Microsoft, Beastie Boys & Launch.Com Offer MP3 Alternative

In what’s been called by some industry analysts a score for Microsoft’s Audio 4.0, Pop-Rap music group The Beastie Boys has announced the availability of the first of three previously unreleased tracks for secure digital download from Launch.Com (Nasdaq: LAUN).

A remix of “The Negotiation Limerick File,” released in conjunction with Capitol and Grand Royal Records, will be available for download through the use of Microsoft Windows Media Technology 4.0 — which is now positioning itself as a chief competitor of the popular and controversial MP3 format.

The collaboration marks one of the first occasions that a major record label has supported free digital downloading of musical content to consumers — directly over the Internet.

Check Your Head and The Rest Will Follow

The free download might also set an example for converging e-commerce and charitable action.

Launch.Com and The Beastie Boys will donate $1 (US$) to CARE and MADRE, charities supporting Kosovo relief efforts, for each new Launch.Com e-patron who downloads the track. Microsoft has pledged to match donations dollar for dollar, with proceeds going to benefit the organizations Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF.

“We are really pleased that Beastie Boys, a major record label like Capitol Records and Microsoft are collaborating with us on this effort and hope we can raise significant awareness and funds for the refugees of Kosovo,” commented LAUNCH CEO Dave Goldberg.

Windows Media Technology 4.0 outfits software developers, content and solution providers with e-commerce solutions, audio and video capabilities, and a content rights management system, and is available itself as a free download from the Redmond, Washington-based software giant.

2004: An E-Music Odyssey

London-based Marketing Tracking International (MTI) released a report last week that projected online music sales would rise to $4 billion by the year 2004, a dramatic increase from the an approximately $46 million total in 1997. The US, according to the report, will account for possibly 60% of the music-related e-commerce action, with Europe at 20%, and Asia 15%.

In other e-Music news, EMI, parent company of Capitol Records, The Beastie Boys’ label, is set to launch digital versions of titles from its catalog that also includes The Beatles. According to The Financial Times, some titles will be available for download from the Internet within the next few weeks.

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