Microsoft has launched a new music initiative to promote acts across three of its digital platforms.

The "Ignition" program takes one act per month and promotes them across Microsoft's Zune music site, MSN and the Xbox Live marketplace.

These three virtual venues have a combined regular audience of 30 million.

As part of the program, users will be able to download a free track from Zune.net, download the video from Xbox Live and stream the video on MSN.

In addition Microsoft will work with the selected artists to produce custom playlists and behind-the-scenes footage. A Microsoft spokesperson said; "We don't want the same thing that is going out on MTV".

This new offering does not replace the Xbox Live "Artist of the Month" promotion, but will work alongside it.

Patriotic types will be happy to note that the first band to participate in this promotion is Newcastle's Maximo Park.