After nearly two years of waiting, social networking giant MySpace has formally rolled out a new joint venture dubbed MySpace Music. In partnership with three of the "big four" major music distributors, MySpace Music will offer DRM-free music downloads, ad-supported music and video streaming, as well as a mobile music storefront and social features such as the capability for users to share playlists.
MySpace and the music labels are positioning MySpace Music as a pre-loaded heavy hitter in the digital music arena, with plans to leverage the 30 million unique visitors MySpace Music already receives to both monetize the labels’ music libraries through downloads, advertising, and partnerships, as well as offer music fans access to labels’s entire catalogs. Financial terms of the new partnership were not disclosed; the new joint venture will operate out of Los Angeles.
The new company certainly faces an uphill battle to compete with the like of iTunes and Amazon.com, but MySpace Music has the advantage of being able to tap into the MySpace user community—which is still the largest social networking site on the planet despite the recent popularity of Facebook, and which is long-established as a platform for both established an unsigned artists to reach out to fans. MySpace Music also hopes to develop new music services and "monetization models" that will create a "groundbreaking mix of community, commerce, and discovery." Music-related offerings are likely to include sales of mobile ringtones and wallpapers, exclusive digital content, as well as physical items like concert tickets, T-shirts, and other products.
Of the four largest major music distributors, only the UK’s EMI Group is not a partner in MySpace Music. Although MySpace announced plans to get into the digital music market almost two years ago, the idea was put on the back burner due to a lawsuit brought against the company by Universal Music that alleged MySpace illegally enabled users to upload music and videos from Universal artists. Since Universal is a partner in MySpace Music, it seems likely the companies have reached an agreement to settle or dismiss the suit.
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