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MS to offer music vids on 360

Natasha Bedingfield's up now.

Microsoft is bringing free music video downloads to Xbox 360 Marketplace, and plans to let a few randomly selected gamers play against pop stars once a month.

The first "Artist of the Month" will be British singer Natasha Bedingfield, who's been plucked from amongst Epic's ranks thanks to her US success with singles "These Words" and "Unwritten" - the latter is currently flying high in the US charts.

The video for "Unwritten" can be downloaded from Xbox Live from today (it's available in 480p and 720p resolutions - 40 and 220 MB respectively), and there will be a sweepstake later this month to select gamers who will then face off against her online in April - with one also winning an Xbox 360 console, signed CD and game. Video-chat is said to be possibility in future once Microsoft's camera peripheral is available.

It's not the first time Bedingfield's brushed with games either - previously she's been modelled and done voice-acting for the Prime Minister's daughter in EA's semi-decent James Bond effort From Russia With Love.

Her appearance on Xbox 360 is all part of a year-long deal the platform holder has arranged with Epic Records, which will see famous musicians getting involved with Xbox 360 once a month - by releasing a freely downloadable music videos and joining in with Microsoft's "Game With Fame" programme, which in the past has seen celebrities don the Xbox Live headset and take part in public games.

"Our goal has always been to make Xbox Live a cutting-edge entertainment experience," said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "This agreement with Epic Records offers our members exclusive artistic content directly from the source. With Artist of the Month we will be providing exactly what music-loving gamers want: brand-new, exclusive music videos that can be downloaded quickly, easily and free of charge."

Microsoft plans to announce further details and participants in the Game With Fame programme soon.