The loud noise heard after the launch of MySpace Music on Sept. 25 was hardly musical. The voices in the crowd, mostly competitors, did everything but echo Barack Obama‘s “lipstick on a pig” analogy.
Merlin, the global rights body for independent music, was quick to remind that the relaunched MySpace website did not include independent labels that do not go through the pipelines owned by the majors. Imeem wanted it known it had introduced the playlist concept that MySpace now touts. AOL Music turned up the heat to get more attention on its Sept. 27 Spinner relaunch. And CBS-owned Last.fm touted its free-on-demand streaming and the fact it pays unsigned artists directly.
MySpace Music, a joint venture of the Fox Interactive unitwith the four major music distribs, is the industry’s attempt to partner with a social network site that can in turn act as a retailer. Build communities and you build sales, the thinking goes — though it’s expected that any chance MySpace Music has of going into the black will come from advertisers and sponsorships.
The majors have had their own sites and concepts — such as subscriptions — but faltered. MySpace Music is a chance for Sony BMG, Warner Music, Universal Music and EMI to compete with Apple’s iTunes. For Fox and MySpace, it’s an opportunity to potentially monetize the music offerings the site is built upon and offer a significant service its chief competitor –market leader Facebook — does not. The labels own 40% of the site.
While the site certainly looked different on Sept. 25 than it did in its prior incarnation on the 24th, it does not feel significantly different. About 10 acts’ albums, singles and videos are pitched on the homepage; the top artists seem to be organized by number of page hits; and there’s no sense of a gatekeeper or a curator at work.
To top it off, the fact that there is a store embedded within MySpace Music is not readily apparent. Country artist Brad Paisley, who has an album out Nov. 4, offers streams of a new track, songs from his 2003 album, a bank of videos and two buttons that link to Facebook. But there’s no place on his page to preorder the new album.
Further proof that not everyone got the memo: A full 12 hours after it launched, banner ads on Nelly‘s page instructed his fans to download his new single on iTunes.