MySpace-Imeem deal highlights online music makeover

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myspace_small.jpgADOTAS – As sources are whispering about the site restricting free music plays, MySpace is close to acquiring music streamer Imeem, continuing its buying spree of the remnants of the Web 2.0 music services and cementing its position as king streamer.

All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka reported the MySpace-Imeem deal is less acquire and more “acqhire” — a source told Kafka that MySpace would like to absorb Imeem’s sales team as well as its engineering and its Snocap service.

Imeem has hobbled along with funding this year, raising $6 million at the end of September, but crushing debt and the inability to capitalize on free music streaming threw them back into the financial morass — and no investors were willing to offer a lifeline this time. Cue MySpace takeover — probably for a song, just like the iLike acquisition this past summer.

In a twist, iLike remains the top music application on Facebook, but the company recently restricted the app from alerting users to upcoming local concerts and displaying user music data in their profiles. This development flows with Facebook’s developer roadmap and was not a slight against iLike in particular, a spokesperson commented to TechCrunch, but it certainly throws a wrench in one of the app’s prominent features.

While Facebook is unlikely to kick iLike to the curb and alienate its users, management will likely quietly diminish its prominence on Facebook — it seems rather counterintuitive to plug a service of one of your biggest rivals.

MySpace is also one of the powers behind Google’s OneBox, which lets searches sample songs by artists and offers links to purchase. The other site is LaLa.com, which charges less than a dollar for unlimited streams of an album — something that Imeem used to offer for free.

In addition, a source told TechCrunch last week that MySpace is spending $20 million per month on streaming royalties — something the site can’t afford much longer. Recently installed CEO Owen Van Natta, a former Facebook exec brought in to renew the slumping social giant, has professed his desire to turn the site into an entertainment forum, but the rumors circulating are that a subscription model looms in the future.

Imeem is likely to go the way of the dinosaur, its guts sewed into the MySpace machine. Combined with MySpace’s acquisition of iLike and the likelihood of new subscription services, the days of unlimited, free streaming music may be numbered. However, MySpace seems to be positioning itself as the new baron of the online music streaming landscape.

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