360s turn up the tunes

Microsoft, Epic Records turn new Xbox into boom box with free music-video downloads, exclusive content. Natasha Bedingfield to be first featured artist in program.

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When the Xbox 360 was released last November, Microsoft touted its downloadable content through Xbox Live Marketplace. Among items that gamers would be able to grab off the Net were game demos, movie trailers, and music videos. While demos and movie trailers have sprung up at regular intervals, the release of music videos has occurred only rarely.

That's about to change, as Microsoft and music label Epic Records have partnered up to provide free high-definition music videos to the Xbox 360. Select artists from Epic Records' catalog will be featured as artists of the month, and videos and "exclusive artist content" will be available for download from the Xbox Live Marketplace.

The first artist to be featured in the program is UK singer Natasha Bedingfield, whose single "Unwritten" is currently in heavy rotation on the airwaves. She may be well known to audiophiles, but Bedingfield is no stranger to gamers, either. The sultry songstress was featured in November's From Russia With Love game.

Those looking to get even closer to Natasha and the rest of the upcoming artists of the month will also be able to download exclusive interviews and enter contests to play Xbox Live-enabled titles against them.

Epic has already provided Microsoft with some music videos for Xbox 360s. Videos from alt-rockers Franz Ferdinand and Audioslave have been featured on Xbox Live Marketplace. Other Epic artists include Shakira, Matisyahu, AC/DC, and Jennifer Lopez.

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