Microsoft recently announced a new marketing program called Ignition aimed at offering musicians a way to reach millions of consumers via Microsoft's multiple services including MSN, Xbox Live and Zune. Each artist in the Ignition spotlight will receive one month of promotion for an undisclosed amount; the first band involved in the program is UK's Maximo Park whose album ‘Our Earthly Pleasures’ and single ‘Our Velocity’ will be available for free on the Zune Marketplace.

"The Ignition program is designed to help artists connect with a substantial consumer audience," said Christina Calio, director of Music Marketing for Zune, in a statement. "Consumers are looking for ways to find new music, and Ignition helps connect artists with potential new fans by giving them multiple opportunities to listen to, watch, or read about the artist across Microsoft's online platforms."
I’m all in for free content, artists should benefit from increased exposure of their work too, and maybe even a hidden talent could rise from this marketing program, however, given the fact that artists will have to pay to be promoted via Ignition, record companies and agencies will probably be the ones deciding who get promoted instead of artists competing for a spot.