MySpace: A place for musicians… and their friends

October 21, 2009

It appears to be Music Wednesday on the Internet. On the same day that reports began circulating that Google and Facebook will launch a host of new music features, News Corp’s MySpace is turning up the volume on its own music offering.

The online social network will offer the following new features:

  • You already can buy music on MySpace through Amazon, but now you can also get it through Apple’s iTunes.
  • All music videos will now be available through a “hub” on MySpace Music. This includes music video recommendations based on what your friends are watching, along with a video player with a link to buy the ones you like, and an A-Z browser to find what you’re looking for.
  • An artist’s dashboard (pictured in this blog post). This is not something that fans would see. Instead, it is reserved for artists and bands that want to track their popularity among MySpace users. This is one of the more interesting things that we’ve seen on MySpace. It offers charts, graphs and snapshots of MySpace music data, including where fans are, song plays, profile views, friend count and profile visitors.

MySpace Chief Executive Owen Van Natta says that these moves give the service’s users a “more integrated and comprehensive experience — not just audio in one place and band interaction somewhere else.”

On a deeper level, they are part of a reconstruction of MySpace and its goals that started when News Corp earlier this year replaced top management and brought in Van Natta, formerly of Facebook. Recall that MySpace has not had a great go of things lately, having fallen behind Facebook in the few years since News Corp bought it for $580 million.

As a prelude to talking about music, I asked Van Natta about the big picture and what it was that he saw at MySpace that needed fixing. Some of what we talked about is ground already covered in plenty of previous stories. Here is something else he shared that I thought I should pass along to you:

“Candidly, when I looked at the product road map and plan, there was no better way to describe it than,… it was a mile wide and an inch deep. It was not focused to let the company execute well. We clearly defined the company mission and focused the product roadmap, and reduced the number of initiatives.”

MySpace closed some of the projects that it was working on, including services dealing with weather reports, classified advertising and others. At the same time, Van Natta said, it’s important to mess around and come up with products that might be a hit — but it’s also important to not let them go indefinitely. “If we’re doing a good job, we’re going to invent a lot of things that people don’t like, and that’s ok, and those things cease to exist.”

UPDATE: I neglected to mention this aspect that will be a benefit for MySpace. Here’s how the AP said it:

Social-networking site MySpace is launching a music video service that will pop into millions of profiles at rival Facebook as well. Starting Wednesday, music videos that MySpace has licensed for its site will run as well on the iLike music recommendation application, which the News Corp. unit acquired this month for $20 million.

(Photo courtesy of MySpace. For what it’s worth, the numbers have been falsified so you don’t actually get to see how the Black Eyed Peas are doing on MySpace Music)

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