MySpace's Music Offering: Ignoring The Elephant In The Room
from the good-luck dept
MySpace has been prepping its own music offering for quite some time, and Fortune reveals the basic details. They’re somewhat… underwhelming. It’s basically a scaled up version of that UK startup we wrote about last week, where we noted that you don’t beat piracy by being more annoying. Basically, MySpace will let people post streamable music on their sites, and will then sell ads against the music, as well as link to sites like iTunes and Amazon for people who want to actually buy the tracks.
There’s nothing wrong with the idea. But, it’s unlikely to make much of a difference in the market. To say, as Fortune does, that this “promises to be the most significant rollout of a digital-music service since Apple’s iTunes” is either hyperbole or (more likely) a statement on how awful other music services have been in the interim. Yet, it also ignores the elephant in the room (as does the MySpace store) which is that it only focuses on one reason why people download unauthorized music: the free part. Yes, MySpace music will be free. But will it also match the other reasons why people like file sharing systems? The convenience? The fact that it’s unencumbered with annoying ads or DRM? The aspect of sharing and helping to promote other artists?
MySpace’s offering will have some of that, but there’s no downloading. People will be able to create playlists and share them, but that doesn’t seem all that different than, say, iMeem. As if to prove that no one involved in this project wants to mention the elephant of file sharing, check out this quote from Luke Wood, executive VP of Universal’s Interscope Geffen A&M record label:
“This is how people discover music now. It’s not happening through people reading Rolling Stone. It’s not happening through the radio. It’s happening through social networks online.”
Is it really that difficult for folks in the industry to at least admit that many, many people discover new music through file sharing? They don’t have to say that it’s okay or that it’s legal. But if they’re going to come up with something that really competes, they should at least be willing to admit what’s really happening in the marketplace. This is not to knock MySpace and the labels for trying something different. It’s great that they’re trying — but pretending that file sharing doesn’t exist isn’t how you respond to the market threat. Without being willing to even mention the elephant, it’s hard to believe that the response is going to be able to compete with the elephant.