Rory Cellan-Jones

MySpace Music - show me the money

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 25 Sep 08, 12:21 GMT

The man on the phone was very enthusiastic: "It's a landmark product." Really? "It's very, very exciting." I'm sure. "It's the biggest new launch we've done since we started..." Wow. "It's about empowering people. It's going to be a massive, massive success from day one..."

MySpace music pageSo what was getting the MySpace executive quite so animated? Yes, you guessed it, another music service. Forgive me if I'm not quite as overwhelmed as the social network appears to be, but hardly a day seems to go past without the launch of another offering that is going to revolutionise the fusty old music business.

Still, MySpace music, which is launching in the United States now and Europe later this year, does have one thing that some other newcomers lack, a ready-made audience of eager music fans. Just about every band, signed or unsigned, has a MySpace page, and its 120 million users are right smack in the middle of the keenest music-loving demographic.

From now on, as well as being able to befriend their favourite bands, MySpace users will be able to stream their entire catalogue, create ring tones from songs, make play lists to suit any mood, and share it all with friends.

But, to coin a phrase, show me the money - where's the payback for MySpace and the music industry? Advertising is the answer for the streaming service, with businesses like McDonalds and Toyota piling in. But there will also be a revenue stream from downloads, provided in the US by Amazon's MP3 store. (Bizarrely, MySpace couldn't tell me what those downloads would cost, insisting that was up to Amazon).

It's what you might call a "free first, pay later" strategy. In that, it's similar to the service launched by earlier this year. A spokesman for that "social" music service, now owned by CBS, called me this morning to gently suggest that MySpace's offering was a rather tired imitation. "They don't have a core of passionate music fans like we do," he said. "And they're not providing a way to navigate and filter all this content in the way that we do."

I think MySpace has a different problem. Surely its users are the very people who have grown up with the idea that you "share" music, rather than pay for it? It's the MySpace generation which has ushered the music industry into the digital era with this depressing sum: Falling CD sales + paid downloads - filesharing = plunging profits.

MySpace is taking the optimistic view that people would love to pay for music if only it were not so difficult: "Most people don't want to steal from their artists," the over-excited executive told me. "But they do want it to be easy and simple to purchase." I'm not convinced that it's so hard to pay for music downloads right now - after all, as I pointed out to Mr MySpace, even a crumbly old has-been like me can just about manage to type in a credit card number and press download when buying that Cat Stevens or Bruce Springsteen album.

Maybe MySpace Music will prove a great marketing tool for the four record labels who've signed up and maybe it will make MySpace a more "sticky" place as the social network competes with Facebook. But will it really convince young music fans that it's worth paying for tracks that they can get elsewhere for nothing? Don't hold your breath.


  • Comment number 1.

    Clearly you people havn't heard of Last.FM

    Sigh... a Tech Blog run by Luddites.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'd have to agree with mgillespie on this. The quote "It's the biggest new launch we've done since we started.." has been used by MySpace and its parent company many times before.

    The entire MySpace music 'service' will most likely be popular with those who either don't use or don't know of or services like it. I'm one of those who find the auto-play music on MySpace profiles to be the most annoying thing in the the world.

    Will the service work and become insanely popular? Most likely. Why? Because its a part of MySpace. Anything that is added to MySpace always becomes popular. Call it "the MySpace effect" if you wish.

  • Comment number 3.

  • Comment number 4.

    mgillespie, as fun as abuse on the internet is perhaps you should read the blog before posting.

    I'm referring specifically to:

    It's what you might call a "free first, pay later" strategy. In that, it's similar to the service launched by earlier this year. A spokesman for that "social" music service, now owned by CBS, called me this morning to gently suggest that MySpace's offering was a rather tired imitation. "They don't have a core of passionate music fans like we do," he said. "And they're not providing a way to navigate and filter all this content in the way that we do."

    Still, well done on posting first though.

  • Comment number 5.

    MySpace music is a great place to meet new talented and aspiring artists - especially ones that don't fit into the major record companies catalogues.

    You can already stream a few songs from each artist on Myspace and Last.FM has taken this function further. There does appear to be less and less incentive to buy music as it is freely (and legally) available through these and other services.

    The aim might be to lessen the impact of P2P downloads but this seems like a 'try before you buy' scheme that is missing the 'buy' component. I don't believe that advertising revenues alone will be sufficient to sustain the business mode.

  • Comment number 6.

    Re. mgillespie, clearly this is a Tech blog not read properly by Tech poseurs.

  • Comment number 7.

    Another music service! Do we not have enough already?

    For a music service to be popular, it has to be able to tempt people from other services, such as Napster and iTunes.

    None of the services mentioned yet have anything that is "brand spanking new".

    Just makes you yawn really...

  • Comment number 8.

    MySpace? It still exists?

    I'm not sure I quite see the point of this update. Are MySpace just offering abilities to create playlists, as is on offer on various other, better music websites? Sorry if I'm being an idiot, but I can't see much past that.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thats all a very well, but being an artist who has several myspace accounts for different projects, I'm fairly annoyed that I won't be seeing a penny. I'm sure if they gave an artists a percentage of the adverts that they get from page views, MANY more artists will sign up and start using myspace again (I've found myspace very very dead in the past year).

  • Comment number 10.

    "Revolutionise the fusty old music business"? Isn't it too late? Haven't they already failed? Downloads that cost as much as the physical product. Over priced physical products that jump from 3 pounds to 15 and back depending which shop, which week. Get the prices down, get back a culture of buying again, let in the small man, direct artist sales etc. that the net was made for. Perhaps we'll see the day where a lot of artists make a living rather than a few (and their managers) make a fortune.

  • Comment number 11.

    zzzzzzzzz yet another "iTunes killer".

    Can no one come up with any original ideas anymore?

  • Comment number 12.

    Isn't myspace already dead?

    The reason lots of people stopped using it was because of the very intrusive ads, and now they are increasing them?

    It will be soon

  • Comment number 13.

    Many musicians throughout history who have put their love of music and the creating of it before just making money out of people regardless of the output have lasted now for centuries. It's now called classical and invariably they only had their music to live on in this world before they passed on to the next one. Their tunes live as long as the instruments that can be made to play them. That is the satisfaction of a true musician.
    Many of the 'sound's' made today are exactly what they say, a sound with a beat which has lost the true 'soul' of what music is all about - to sooth, provide good feelings, vitalise people, sympathise or emathise with people, or just simply dance to or listen to whilst relaxing from a hard days work. Most of what you hear today is just a 'sound experience' good or bad and in electronic terms it will not last.
    Too much of anything is a bad thing and to bombard the population with music everywhere in shops, supermarkets and workplaces actually irritates eventually, gives you no choice to turn it off if you happen to have a headache and actually becomes 'a noise nuisance' or 'pollution' damaging ear drums and causing deafness.
    With My Space young people who 'love' music and want to express themselves through it can do so and get heard for their music and not just to be used as 'profit fodder'. They increase their learning of it as they go and no one is obliged to listen to it if they do not want to , unlike the supermarkets and workplaces etc where sometimes it stops you from thinking at all.
    It provides a social interaction on a music level and as every musician knows it takes one to recognise one. Surely that is healthier that some other persuits that take place in the world today.

    I look forward to the day when music as it should be and for what it should be finds its way back into society to make us all better.

    After all 'Music makes the world go round' and 'If music be the food of love - play on'.

  • Comment number 14.

    A minor niggle, but "to coin a phrase" does not mean "to use an old phrase". it means to invent a new one.
    I doubt you created the phrase:
    "show my the money"


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