Microsoft Broadens Artist Development Efforts, Label Chatter Emerges

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Microsoft broadened its efforts to promote new artists today, a move designed to increase its credibility among music fans.

The latest stab, called Ignition, offers promotional exposure across several properties, including the Zune Marketplace, Xbox Live, and MSN.  That is a considerable footprint, one that will offer a significant boost to participating groups.  The first Ignition artist is Maxïmo Park, a Newcastle quintet whose album is available for download through the Zune Marketplace.  Fans can also grab an exclusive, free single from the Zune Marketplace, a free video download on Xbox Live, and a streaming version of the video on MSN.

Meanwhile, a well-placed executive source pointed Digital Music News to possible label ambitions by the software giant.  According to the source, the label would revolve around Zune, part of a continued and aggressive campaign to promote device sales.  Microsoft did respond to the information late Sunday.