Music Subscription Could Break MySpace’s Back

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myspace_small.jpgADOTAS – When you want to check out a new band’s or an artist’s sounds, you don’t go to Facebook. Apple shut down LaLa, so that’s out. imeem got bought. MySpace is the best-known stop to stream music unheard by you, not because the quality is good (MySpace’s player is all kinds of awful) but because it’s free.

However, reports are running rampant today that MySpace is seriously considering a subscription policy for its currently ad-supported streaming music service.

I’m not sure why the company doesn’t just encourage employees to run around city streets screaming, “THE END IS NIGH!” Because a music subscription service will surely put the long-suffering social network out of its misery.

The New York Post, which shares News Corp. as a parent company, reports that apparently MySpace music chief Courtney Hunt, a former MTV exec, has been discussing an “all-you-can-eat” streaming subscription service with those major label dinosaurs Universal, Sony, Warner and EMI. An unnamed source tells the Post, “It’s been brought out but it’s far from flushed out.”

Holt’s response was far more vague. “We’re always exploring new monetization opportunities, but there are no immediate plans to jump into premium music,” he said in a statement.

Did he not get the message from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke that the record industry is going to be dead in a few months? Also, I tend to listen to music, not consume it, which is another huge problem with the pop music space… Wait, getting off subject.

Rumor has it that MySpace spends $20 million a month on streaming royalties. In addition, CNET has an anonymous music industry source suggesting that MySpace Music has been an underachiever in terms of revenue generation, which recently has slid further down.

The company is reportedly in talks with Microsoft, Yahoo and Google as MySpace’s search advertising deal with Google expires in August. Google paid $900 million to sell ads on MySpace and other News Corp. sites, but since MySpace’s social stock is in the gutter, especially compared to the juggernaut that is Facebook, analysts expect the next deal will be for significantly less. Last year Rupert Murdoch admitted MySpace would not meet its Google traffic commitments and income on the search deal dropped $100 million.

According to Side-Line.com, which first reported the subscription rumor on Tuesday, MySpace Music was responsible for the majority of searches that made of the page-view obligations under the Google contract. It’s pretty obvious that would turn to a drizzle under a subscription plan.

Of course, this isn’t the first time the MySpace death knell has been rung — some commentators started ringing away when the rapidly growing site was acquired by News Corp., but I’d argue that was the beginning of a long, depressing decline.

The company has gone through a CEO and a co-president in the last six months and pretty much admitted it can’t compete with Facebook — in fact, TechCrunch found stats suggesting Facebook is MySpace’s third top referrer of traffic. Staff are jumping ship left and right. Even cofounder Tom Anderson — MySpace Tom, who used to be everyone’s first friend — is no longer around.

However, News Corp.’s digital chief Jonathan Miller dismissed talks of a sale, another rumor making the Internet rounds, as “fabrications” and said to look for a site relaunch later this year. But wait, isn’t that what fired CEO Owen Van Natta promised last year?

1 COMMENT

  1. See this description of MySpace in an article “For All Those Facebook Left Behind,” New York Times Thursday July 8, 2010 B10.

    “MySpace (a teenage and preteenage crowd, heavily focused on pop music and do-it-yourself page designs)”

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