I agreed to the same embargo that I assume everyone else did when it comes to information about MySpace Music, but since the news is already out there, I figure all bets are off now, and we’re free to post whatever we want about the venture launching tonight, or tomorrow morning, or whatever it is. I’ve seen all the same screenshots and read through all the same background material as TechCrunch and others have, and I have to say that it looks as though this might be one music venture backed by all the major record labels that… how shall I put this… doesn’t totally suck.
In fact, this launch would be worth it even if the only change was that music doesn’t auto-play when you load a MySpace page (the fact that most MySpace pages make my eyeballs bleed when I look at them is a different story). But that said, I think the way that this has been put together actually has a chance of succeeding, for a few reasons, including:
— It’s not all crapped up with DRM, like most record-label efforts
— It involves music from all of the labels, plus some independents
— You can share playlists of up to 100 songs with others
— you can stream entire songs, not just 30-second snippets
— One-click, DRM-free downloads from Amazon’s online store
The only potential fly in the ointment, as TechCrunch has noted, is that it’s unclear what kind of financial arrangements MySpace and the labels have come to in order to make this all happen. If the massive social network — which is owned by media conglomerate News Corp. — got a sweetheart deal that allowed it to bypass the fees that have come close to bankrupting many smaller music ventures, then that’s not exactly fair. Using their combined muscle to drive such businesses under and coerce MySpace into giving them equity (and ad revenue) would be just the kind of anti-competitive behaviour we’ve come to expect from the major labels.
Joe Weisenthal says that while it is promising, MySpace Music suffers from a pile of design and usability flaws. Gee — MySpace design flaws? Who would have thought. Kevin Maney at Portfolio says it’s the dog’s breakfast.