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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    eleete, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 8:01pm

    Sharing

    "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."

    It's so odd that in a country that prides itself on such passion, caring and generosity, that sharing has become a crime of sorts when no one is deprived of a thing. Perspective is tantamount in the understanding of how technology and science could be prolific without obstacles such as laws. Profit and monetary gains should increasingly NOT be the center of the issue in this era. It is a mistake to assume that the benefit of few is greater than the benefit of ALL. Sad.

     

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  2.  
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    Cestan, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 2:52am

    Offcourse they don't mention file sharing.
    File sharing isn't in their eyes a manner of discovering music, it's a way of stealing sales.
    The social networks method generally consist of embedded players thus not depriving them of sale.
    T'is a matter of perspective I guess

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 5:16am

    Saying people discover music through file-sharing is like saying people discover, well, I can't think of anything comparable that's as difficult to "discover" something. With file-sharing, you don't know what the music is until after you have it and you're just searching for words and looking at a list of results that come up. It's far less effective then even flipping through the CD racks at a record store.

    People will always rely on others to find the music they want, whether it be friends, magazines, or hearing a song being played somewhere. Someone somewhere has information about a band and once that information gets spread, people go get the music. People go to file-sharing to get the music, once they know what they're looking for.

     

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  4.  
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    hegemon13, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 7:20am

    Re:

    "It's far less effective then even flipping through the CD racks at a record store."

    Huh? Because looking at the CDs somehow tells you how they sound?

    "With file-sharing, you don't know what the music is until after you have it and you're just searching for words and looking at a list of results that come up."

    Depends on the site. Good music torrents sites allow comments, genre categories, and sometimes even tagging and recommendations. To say you can't discover music through file-sharing is a bit silly. I discovered Fleet Foxes through file-sharing. I have now bought two copies of their album, one for me and one as a birthday present for my dad.

    Now, if you are limiting file-sharing to Kazaa and it's ilk, then you may be right.

     

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  5.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 8:41am

    Re:

    In addition to hegemon's good points, I have to say that when I used to go into a record store, I'd zip straight to the rock section and ignore the rest of the store. When I go to Amazon, I look through my recommendation based on what I've already purchased.

    When I dig through my friend's CDs and copy everything I can, I get all kinds of crazy music, especially when I copy one of their mix CDs that they ripped from their friend's CD collections... And then I end up on Amazon buying more of what interested me.

    Did I buy the first few songs that caught my interest? No, but I wouldn't have bought anything if I hadn't starting off by illegally sharing music with my friends.

     

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  6.  
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    PB'er, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    What about..

    Audio Hijack pro, you can just record anything on the net to your HD. There is no way for the industry to stop this, if anything tools like Audio Hijack pro will become more and more popular. For those who never heard of such things below is a link.

    http://rogueamoeba.com/audiohijack/

    We all know what this is for:

    http://thepiratebay.org/browse

     

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  7.  
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    Roy, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    Indie music and social networking

    DiscoverOurBand.com is for indie bands, fans, venues and labels. Free too. For the love of indie

     

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  8.  
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    JC, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 2:12pm

    You are making one big mistake though.

    You are ignoring the utter idiocy of the typical MySpace user. These are people who will pay money, real, actual money, to put glitter on their page. They're gonna flock to this like the second coming of Christ. Unfortunately, we can't sterilize them on the spot.

     

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  9.  
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    jakomi, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 2:58pm

    In Defense of Myspace Music

    iTunes is a monopoly under both the definition of EU as well as US competition laws with more than a 65% market share. Why hasn't the US government acted to rectify this clear breach of the United States own competition legislation? So it is good to see another big player on the block adding some disruption in the market...should be both great for user and artists alike. check out the post in more details at: http://www.themusicvoid.com/?p=123

     

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  10.  
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    Mike (profile), Sep 13th, 2008 @ 4:33pm

    Re: In Defense of Myspace Music

    iTunes is a monopoly under both the definition of EU as well as US competition laws with more than a 65% market share.

    Really? Can you point me to the US statute which defines that as the standard? Can you also define the relevant market? If we define the relevant market as "music sales" you'll find that iTunes is not quite as big as you think, and you'll still have trouble showing me where 65% is defined as the cutoff.

    Hell, if you then define the relevant market as downloadable music, you'd have to include things like file sharing, and iTunes is barely a blip on the radar.

    Sorry. iTunes is not a monopoly, no matter how you slice it.

    Why hasn't the US government acted to rectify this clear breach of the United States own competition legislation?

    Because it's not a breach. I think that's why.

    So it is good to see another big player on the block adding some disruption in the market...

    First, MySpace music isn't a competitor to iTunes. It's a channel for iTunes. In fact, it pushes people to buy music *on* iTunes.

    Second, how is this adding any bit of disruption? It's the same thing that's already available at iMeem and about 5 or 6 other sites.

    Third, it's even less less of a disruption when you look at the real market: the market for music.

    should be both great for user and artists alike.

    Except that people can already get this sort of thing without annoying ads. So why is so "great"?

     

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  11.  
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    DennisSC, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 4:51pm

    Re: In Defense of MySpace/Antitrust

    Even if iTunes is somehow in breach of antitrust laws (not my area of specific expertise, but I can't see how it is, just because it comes with Macs isn't enough, I think), the current administration is not exactly known for its vigilance in this area. This is nothing compared to the consolidation of media companies in general.

     

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  12.  
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    senornono, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 7:12pm

    MySpace Music is stillborn

    I have been the music business a long time. People like to discover music less than you might think.

    Sure, they will find out about the newest hits, but crate diggers most people ain't. The business depends as much on the "buys 6 CDs a year" soccer mom as it does on the kids who swarm Amoeba each weekend. They'd swarm other record stores, but they don't exist any longer.

    Old folks know mostly what they want, while the kids today just want Rihanna and Lil Wayne. Over and over and over.

    Let's face it, the business isn't growing, it's contracting rapidly. There is more competition than ever for your listening time. Quality HDTV and the next gen video games being the latest incursions along with the iPhone. And everyone is file-sharing via IM sharing, USB key drives and private websites. P2P is such a small portion of file-sharing, and big champagne can't even measure these new methods.

    There has already been plenty of music on myspace user pages, and especially on the band pages - which is generally sane listening. However, I don't want to sit on some idiot's myspace page to play his playlist, because his page has likely been overtaken by his 'friends' who post inane audio and video snippets already that a) make the page intollerably heavy to load, and b) an assault on the senses. I can't close that browser quick enough.

    My prediction: MySpace Music is stilborn.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    linlu, Sep 14th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    And what happens if you do decide to try a print recommended band?

    A month or so ago, while waiting for my car to be inspected, I was flipping through one of those People like magazines, only it was a bit younger. I forget the name, since it was pretty much full of fluff, but I do recall reading some piece about a few artists. The article compared them to artists I loved and how much 'better they were' than those artists. So being curious, when I got home I fired up iTunes and began to find 30-second clips of those highly regarded artists. What did I hear, more of the same. Overproduced, not very talented artists, who I question what they did to get that kind of promotion. Yes I am referring to casting couch antics here, as that is the impression I was left with after sampling these 'artists' work.

    That is what is wrong with the music business, they promote sound-alike, overproduced, little talented people who do god knows what in return for the hype. Why would I pay for such junk? Instead I find myself digging deep into related songs to those I do like on iTunes and buying those instead. The artists whose music I buy are pretty much not promoted or sometimes even released by the usual record labels.

    The related music - or 'people who bought this also bought ..." is what has worked for me. I find music I like and have discovered some really great artists. Call it simple minded to use friend recommendations, but that link has more brains behind it than the crap the RIAA members push.

     

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  14.  
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    miked, Sep 14th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    Re: You are making one big mistake though.

    Excellent point. Look at the ringtone market. All music can be easily obtained but they for convenience to get the songs on their phone.

     

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  15.  
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    Dohn Joe, Sep 14th, 2008 @ 4:22pm

    Why is this news?

    Facebook's had this for ages in several add-on apps like this one: http://apps.facebook.com/myprofileplayer/

    I'm surprised that Facebook hasn't driven MySpace into obsolescence. The only reason I can think of is that it's following in the footsteps of creating a bloated and irritating-to-use "personal profile" page that has so much crap floating around in it that it takes 30 minutes just to see what you went to someone's profile to see...

     

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  16.  
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    silentsteel (profile), Sep 15th, 2008 @ 5:36am

    Re: In Defense of Myspace Music

    The pieces of legislation you are referring to are the Sherman and Clayton acts, which do not set out to define a company as a monopoly, and limit the company based on it being a monopoly, in and of itself. They were passed with the intention of limiting a company's ability to establish, and keep, a monopoly through anti-competitive practices, e. g. Microsoft, AT&T, Standard Oil.

    Many companies fit your criteria of monopoly; Google, and Hewlett Packard in the printer market, to name two off the top of my head. Neither one, however engages in the anti-competitive practices to keep any other entity out of their respective markets.

    If you feel that you can bring a better product or service to market than any of these guys (Google, Apple, or HP) go ahead and try. If, once you get your feet on the ground (credibility with your target consumer) there is verifiable evidence that your entrance into the market is being blocked by a competitor, then the government might (highly unlikely in the US currently) step in with fines, or whatever else necessary.

     

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  17.  
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    Andy, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 6:14am

    Some folks know how to do paid music

     

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  18.  
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    silentsteel (profile), Sep 15th, 2008 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: In Defense of Myspace Music (Update)

    I am not sure how many people know about this already (it has been out for a week, almost) but (in my opinion) this would be an example of anti-competitive business practice Apple is able to engage in because of the monopolistic status of the ipod/iphone/itms. While there may be more to the story than this, what is mentioned in the blog is rather obvious to me as anti-competitive.

    http://almerica.blogspot.com/2008/09/podcaster-rejeceted-because-it.html

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 8:34am

    Re: MySpace Music is stillborn

    TV and videogames aren't new, and they require something that music doesn't: visual attention.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2008 @ 6:32pm

    why dont they have a search for musicians to connect

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2008 @ 6:43pm

    im a musician looking for other musicians in my area i dont know how many times i searched the web for others and come up with the check my myspace thing -in the people search if they had a section for musicians to find each other it would be great forget about the elephant they are over looking thats like flea in comparison

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Sven Seelenmeyer, Sep 29th, 2008 @ 3:41pm

    Still exists!

    Still exists!
    Its name is "Space Jammer" and it plays MySpace music and creates playlists.
    You can buy the music you are listening to directly out of the program at amazon, musicload, 7digit, cd-baby or iTunes (vers. 1.4). You also can watch videos of the bands, send comments to them and much more. The program is freeware and available at:

    www.spacejammer.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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