September 30, 2008

MySpace Music: iTunes or Indie?

In my latest post, entitled “Pure Genius: Apple Innovates Once Again” I discussed the Genius search feature included in iTunes 8. By examining the ways Genius compares to existing online music search technologies, specifically Pandora and, I found that although the Genius feature may be a lucrative asset for iTunes on a large scale, there is still room for other sites such as Pandora and to continue to prosper and meet the promotion needs of new independent musicians that iTunes does not serve. (Especially since legislation was just passed to give Pandora and other internet-radio outlets more time to come to a royalty deal with major labels, here.) Although Pandora and both have comprehensive and user-friendly search features, iTunes is the first to pair such a search tool with their existing digital music storefront.

This week, I have decided to research the launch of the new MySpace Music platform to further discuss the integration of marketing tools, like Genius, with digital music platforms, and specifically digital storefronts, like iTunes. In fact, the launch of MySpace Music shares common ground with the iTunes updates, as there have been a host of blog posts regarding MySpace’s chances to compete with iTunes’ standing as the current leader in digital downloads. However, if MySpace wishes to stand a chance in that battle, they must take advantage of the aforementioned opportunity to work with the Independent labels and artists that iTunes does not reach. So does MySpace have a place for Indies? Based on the press surrounding the launch, MySpace Music may be neglecting to include the artists that may give them a shot at iTunes’ title as the industry’s primary digital distribution hub.

Through extensively exploring the blogosphere, I was able to find a number of resources pertaining to the launch of MySpace Music. One of which, entitled "MySpace Music Finally Shows Up!" by Chris Crum, a staff writer at Web Pro News, reports on MySpace Music's new features, and analyzes the digital music platform’s relationship with Indies. This post led me to an earlier post written by Chris before the MySpace Music launch entitled “Big Expectations For MySpace Music”, which touches on how the integration of MySpace Music’s new online marketing tools could prove beneficial to a number of parties, including Major Labels and music listeners alike. As far as MySpace and Apple are concerned, I discovered a post by Romain Pechard entitled "Myspace Music + Long Tail = Indie labels not worthy enough for MySpace" where he discusses the importance of MySpace striking deals with Indie labels and artists to keep them in the mainstream music market currently dominated by Apple. I commented on each post (with each comment posted below), as they were written in congruence with my position on MySpace’s relationship with Independent labels and artists.

“MySpace Music Finally Shows Up!”
I want to thank you for your thorough reports on MySpace Music leading up to its launch, and for examining the different factors surrounding its release. From your post "Big Expectations for MySpace Music" to your discussions about their new ad program in "MySpace Compliments MySpace Music with Ad Service," your previous posts culminate in this latest entry with ruminations on where MySpace Music may go from here. After reading other posts on the matter, and linking to the various sources that you cited, I think that in future months MySpace has the potential to become a multi-faceted service provider including, and maybe even focusing on, independent bands - although they have not taken full advantage of the opportunity at this point in time. But as you said, "The is just the beginning though. More deals are likely to be reached..."

Last week I analyzed the new Genius feature on iTunes 8 for a blog post, and focused on how the direct integration of online marketing tools with a digital download platform will prove extremely lucrative for online music distributors, in this case Apple. However, I realized that while the Genius feature benefits established acts through iTunes, what will help the independent and up-and-coming artists? I believe that if MySpace Music wants to compete, they not only have to integrate the Major and bigger Indie label catalogs, but also must provide services for newer independent labels and artists – as iTunes’ market does not stretch that far, and MySpace is in a better position to successfully achieve this.

As an entrepreneur in the music industry, I believe MySpace should gear its efforts to being a service provider for these new independent entities; equipping independent bands with the online marketing tools they need to promote themselves via the MySpace Music platform. It seems that this could be extremely profitable in a number of ways, and it would fill a void that seems to have developed as online music platforms like iTunes and MySpace continue to evolve. Do you think this will happen? And if so to what degree? Your comments would be greatly appreciated.

“MySpace Music + Long tail = Indie labels not worthy enough for MySpace”
I appreciate your post and agree with many of the valid points that you are making. I too believe it is essential that MySpace focuses on integrating Independent labels and artists in MySpace Music, in addition to the Majors, as it will definitely give them a leg up in the inevitable competition, as you said, with iTunes and MTV. I had not even considered that MySpace was originally founded as an independent social networking site, and I think that speaks volumes. It has certainly changed over the years. I was wondering: what steps do you think MySpace should take in order to reintroduce Independent labels and artists to their new platform?

You also state that this scenario is "providing an opening for indie labels to go out of MySpace and create a new platform would finally lead to the death of the current biggest music platform." Do you think this could potentially be better than MySpace seeking out Independent labels and artists for inclusion in MySpace Music?

I recently wrote a post about iTunes 8 and the new Genius search tool. I thought the implementation of such a marketing tool with the iTunes storefront was a huge development, but only for established artists. I feel as though the MySpace features have the potential to be extremely beneficial to those who use the service in the way that they combine specific, new features from a multitude of different social networking and music promotion sites (i.e. imeem, Pandora, iLike, etc.) into one music marketing platform.

However, I agree that to challenge Apple is futile. One of the main points of my recent post about iTunes 8 was the definition by Apple and others of the “opening" for MySpace, or any music platform (even a new one as you said), to assimilate the independent music market – both Independent labels and bands – into a cohesive music promotion and distribution platform. If MySpace focused their site toward being a service provider for Independent artists while simultaneously catering to the needs of mainstream acts and other already established acts on MySpace, they would be in the best position. However, where MySpace currently falls short, like you said, is with their failure to include Independent labels in their deals at this time. Would you prefer MySpace to revert to what it began as; a social networking site driven by Independent artists? Or do you think it should include both Independent labels and artists in addition to mainstream artists from Major labels? Thank you for your post, and any comments are appreciated.

1 comment:

Emily Oettinger said...

I really enjoyed reading your post about the new MySpace Music platform. On a superficial note, I find your blog very aesthetically pleasing; the colors are simple and look chic with the white background. I like that you reference your blog from last week, but I think you may have benefited from introducing the topic of MySpace in the beginning as opposed to in the second paragraph. By discussing MySpace first and making comments about last week integrated and more secondary, the topic of MySpace would have more quickly grasped attention as the headlining subject. With that said, this post was still very well written and you did ultimately solidify your argument that MySpace must incorporate independent labels to stay competitive with something like iTunes, yet not try to compete directly (by only offering mainstream music) because of its futility.

In your first comment, I like that you refer back to the Genius feature that iTunes now employs, yet you relate it back to the way it will affect independent labels, which is really the focus of this blog post. You emphasize the importance of "equipping independent bands with the online marketing tools they need to promote themselves via the MySpace Music platform," but what specifically should they incorporate? Would independent labels benefit from different marketing tools than the mainstream music that MySpace's new music platform now offers? Do you think there would be any benefits to creating a completely separate independent label music site like MySpace? Or do you think that MySpace's name recognition is essential in attracting an audience?

In your second comment, I like that you mention the foundation on which MySpace was founded: as an independent social networking site. I think that is a very important note because it seems that MySpace has abandoned its founding values in an effort to become competitive. It is ironic that in doing so, they have ignored a major sector of the music industry that could potentially be very lucrative for them.

Overall, good job! I look forward to reading your blogs in the future.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.