Microsoft and Epic Records to Offer Ongoing Exclusive Entertainment Content on XBL

The online entertainment network features Natasha Bedingfield as first Artist of the Month, and offers music videos and Game with Fame sessions.
REDMOND, Wash., and NEW YORK — March 16, 2006 —Microsoft Corp. and music giant Epic Records today announced an agreement to make available a full year of exclusive artist content and high-definition music video downloads free for all Xbox 360™ gamers. Over the next year, Xbox 360 and Epic Records will showcase 12 up-and-coming artists through the Artist of the Month (AOM) program via the Xbox Live® service, the first and only unified global online entertainment network. Through the alliance, millions of Xbox Live members can enter a monthly sweepstakes with a prize of gaming against some of the hottest musicians through the Xbox Live Game with Fame™ program.

Kicking off the AOM program on Xbox Live is British singer-songwriter
Natasha Bedingfield, who recently captured her second top 10 hit in the
U.S. with the smash single “Unwritten,” the follow-up to last year’s
top 10 hit, “These Words.” “Unwritten,” which currently holds the No. 4
spot on the Top 40 Mainstream Airplay chart, is also exploding on
iTunes, making Bedingfield the No. 3 artist overall and making the
single the No. 1 most downloaded pop song.

Spotlighted as one of the biggest breakout females of 2006, Bedingfield
has taken America by storm since the release of her album, “Unwritten,”
garnering critical acclaim and making appearances on major TV shows as
“Good Morning America,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Last Call
with Carson Daly” and the ABC prime-time hit, “Dancing with the Stars.”
Her music video “Unwritten” can be downloaded free on Xbox Live
starting today, and a sweepstakes later this month will award a lucky
winner an opportunity to play against Bedingfield during a Game with
Fame session in April.

“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.”

Each month Microsoft and Epic will announce the new Artist of the Month
along with exclusive benefits for Xbox 360 gamers around the world.
Xbox Live members will be able to download featured music videos from
Xbox Live Marketplace at no additionalcharge and watch exclusive
interviews downloaded directly to their Xbox 360 system. Further,
monthly Game with Fame sessions will let Xbox Live members play games
with some of the world’s most renowned celebrities, as well as enter
sweepstakes offering tons of cool prizes, from Xbox 360 consoles to
signed CDs.

“This program really taps into the passion and excitement that surround
both video gaming and music,” said Cory Llewellyn, vice president of
Epic Records Digital Marketing and Promotion.“We are excited to bring
our strong roster of developing artists together with Xbox Live for a
variety of great experiences for consumers.”