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Free music for Xbox Live users

Free music for Xbox Live users

Natasha Bedingfield, coming to an Xbox 360 near you thanks to a deal between Microsoft and Epic Records

Xbox 360 gamers will soon be able to enjoy a full year of exclusive artist content and music videos completely free thanks to a deal announced today between Microsoft and Epic Records.

A different artist will be featured each month, starting with our own Natasha Bedingfield, who is currently taking the US by storm with two recent Top 10 hits. She also currently hold the title of Number 1 Most Downloaded Pop Song on iTunes.

"Our goal has always been to make Xbox Live a cutting-edge entertainment experience," said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "This agreement with Epic Records offers our members exclusive artistic content directly from the source. With Artist of the Month we will be providing exactly what music-loving gamers want: brand-new, exclusive music videos that can be downloaded quickly, easily and free of charge."

"The fusion of music and video games now plays a significant role in breaking artists and enhancing the video game experience; the cross-cultivation of the two mediums helps new games and new artists thrive together," said Charlie Walk, president of Epic Records. "Through this alliance, Epic and Xbox show that we are in one business - exciting young adults and leading them to the art of discovery."

Xbox Live subscribers are now able to download content directly from Xbox Live Marketplace for free, including music videos and exclusive interviews, for the first year. It is not known whether there will be a charge beyond the first trial year.

Of equal concern is storage capacity - the Xbox 360 ships with "only" 20GB of hard drive capacity. This might sound plenty for save games and mini games like Geometry Wars but in this new era of high definition content, it actually isn't all that much. We downloaded the 720p version of Bedingfield's music video last night and it was a mighty 222MB; at just over 4 minutes long, you're looking at nearly one megabyte per second.

Playable demos delivered over Xbox Live, such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted can be up to 500MB each. Add in one's own music collection ripped directly onto the console from audio CD and filling the hard drive doesn't seem that far fetched. Of course, should that happen, one can always add a secondary external hard drive thanks to the on-board USB 2.0 slots.

We want to know your thoughts - will this deal usher in a new wave of rich media that can only enhance the Xbox 360 ownership experience, or is this another cynical move to get users hooked on content, only to then start charging for it? Cast your vote in our News Discussion forum.