Music Labels Gain With MySpace Music Still Unclear

By September 26, 2008

Myspace joined forces with four major labels - Universal, Warner, Sony and EMI - to launch MySpace Music ( . So the question is: what do they hope to accomplish? The business model is based on advertising, user-bought songs, and ring tones. The ad revenue will be shared by so many parties that the music labels involved cannot think to recoup the losses suffered from the mass migration from physical media. As for a paying audience, launching only in the US severely limits market penetration.

The navigation of the site is pleasurably simple. The welcome banner spells it out: “New to MySpace Music? Click here to find out (…)” The new interface provides FAQs on custom playlists (to be recommended and shared through the friend network),  the improved profile player, a Search Feature by artist song or album and ring-tones from Jamster.

While the main success of the site probably will not be paid downloads, the site differentiation from the iTunes music store is clear: DRM-free mp3s. Also, the theme of "exclusivity" proliferates: "Exclusive album premieres," "Exclusive interviews," and the "Secret Show" page , where users can get notifications on local, low-profile shows.

Not all of the new features are improvements. This question is from the Myspace Music for Artists FAQ:
“Q: Can I sell my music on MySpace if I do not yet have an agreement with MySpace Music? A: Not just yet. [We’ve made every other feature easier, but stay tuned].” As the means of promotion of-choice for non-signed bands, this seems problematic. With the recent launch, the “buy song” option seems to have shaky support. Later on, this author would be curious to know the proportion of signed versus unsigned bands that can sell their songs here.

As of yet, the integrity of the business model still suffers from opacity. All music-streaming sites are charged per song stream, as should MySpace Music. The figures are undisclosed for now, so it could be that the labels on the board are investing in band promotion, as well as utilizing the Myspace vehicle to limit traffic to other music sites.

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