Losing the URGE to Listen

SURGE!So now MTV and Microsoft are going to get together to offer an online music service. There will be the ability to rent music. The ability to buy music. And most of all, the ability to line the pockets of Viacom and Microsoft. It’s called “URGE.”

The man in charge of this from the MTV side, Jason Hirschhorn, who has “chief digital officer” on his business card, proclaimed, “We will be the preferred service.” Of course he thinks that. Otherwise, he’d probably be working elsewhere. Corporations don’t want their people saying anything but that they’re—the corporations, that is—the very best at whatever they turn their attention to. Which, of course, doesn’t explain why there is oft times abysmal quality in the products and services that many of these behemoths turn out to the market.


But maybe, just maybe, that word “preferred” is actually hiding something. Something like the fact that one could argue that the Microsoft operating systems and attendant programs are far from being the best, but that they are, for complicated reasons that people who write books with “Silicon Valley” in the title have parsed over multiple pages, the “preferred” products. In effect, they have become the default mode for all but a handful who have turned to alternatives like Linux or one of the Mac OSes.

Of course, when you’re talking music download systems, iTunes is certainly the elephant in the room. Which must cause Bill Gates no end of bother. URGE, as you might expect, will not be usable by those who choose iPods. Windows Media Player is the price of admission. Sort of like selling your soul, in effect.

Presumably, the two companies are hoping that the ostensible street cred that MTV has will overshadow MS and that eager music lovers across the land will abandon their iPods and glom on to something by some other company that only wishes it had come up with the iPod. Perhaps people will actually begin to recognize that MTV is nothing but another big corporation that has packaged its products in a way analogous to one of those shrink-wrapped boxes that contain the latest version of XP. This is not to say that Apple isn’t a big corporation, but at least it arguably shows signs of genuine authenticity and emotion when it comes to product design, which can’t be said of Microsoft. . .and the design chops once exhibited by MTV seems to be more fleeting than the careers of the good-looking hip-hop singers who are eye candy for a moment until they’re replaced by another.

URGE, indeed.

Image courtesy of SaveSURGE.org. Remember Surge? URGE ought to last about as long…

5 thoughts on “Losing the URGE to Listen”

  1. urge will only work if they focus on downloading crappy sitcoms and half-assed reality shows. isn’t that what mtv has cred for?

    urge… whatever.

  2. You’re right on, Mac. None of the competition seems to get it – it’s the iPod, stupid!

    Apple will continue to steamroll the competition until they wise up and realize they’ve lost the hardware war. The first music/video download service that’s compatible with the iPod and costs less than iTunes (and has less DRM crippleware built in) will clean up.

    Give us $5 mp3/aac albums we can put on our iPods, and we’ll buy. Until then, shut up.

  3. I didn’t get anything from this article. Do I have to buy an obscenely expensive mp3 player to use this? Hell with it- ipods are for suckers. I have Dozens of mp3 cd-rs that each have a dozen albums on them. and i can copy them as many times as i want.

    why are ipods more popular than, say, creative’s mp3 player, save for apple’s slick marketing?

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