MSN Music later this week will unveil plans to expand into the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Austria, Billboard.biz has learned. Pricing and repertoire details are expected to be disclosed Thurs

MSN Music later this week will unveil plans to expand into the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Austria, Billboard.biz has learned. Pricing and repertoire details are expected to be disclosed Thursday (Nov. 4).

Microsoft's digital music service launched in the United Kingdom two-and-a-half years ago and also has a presence in France, Germany, Italy and Belgium. The U.S. version, which went live Oct. 12, signaled Microsoft's globalization of a brand that had so far been locally managed.

The European expansion also sees Loudeye-owned OD2 continue its role as MSN Music's international digital distribution partner. Meanwhile, Scandinavian digital retailer CDON has struck agreements to distribute MSN Music in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark; it is unclear when the service will launch in those markets.

MSN Music's goal is to operate and expande the service in the 17 countries where the MSN Web portal has a presence, and to make the digital music sold compatible with the 70 digital players that are Windows Media software-enabled.

The extension into new European markets also heralds Microsoft's bid to challenge the dominance of iTunes Music Store. Apple's iTunes service recently rolled out its European Union version, following its launch in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany.

In other news, OD2 is understood to be in talks with music chart compilers in several European markets -- including Germany, Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands -- to launch localized download sales charts. OD2 contributes data to the British download chart, which the Official U.K. Charts Co. introduced in September.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print