Music and MySpace - And Others

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If you read this blog with any regularity, you've probably learned that I'm a big music fan. And there are some interesting happenings in the music and social networking scene.

According to Reuters, MySpace Music is apparently ready to launch any day now. It involves at least three major music labels and is intended to rival iTunes. Which is a lofty goal - according to NPD MusicWatch, Apple just passed Walmart as the top music retailer in the US. You will find streaming music, MP3 downloads, concert tickets, ringtones and merchandise. Already on many artists' profiles you can purchase songs through SnoCap - a unique system that alters the price of each song according to demand and a good way for unsigned artists to make a little money through social networking.

It's good to see MySpace take advantage of one of the best features of the site, for me anyway. MySpace has long allowed users to post songs to their profiles from a huge inventory of musicians on the site. That made it very easy to discover new music. Also, by visiting most artists' profiles, you can hear at least four complete songs - handy when you want to hear some samples before purchasing, or deciding which concert you want to get to. This is also a potentially large new revenue stream for MySpace.

Now, some believe this will be a short-lived success. Sarah Perez wrote an interesting article at ReadWriteWeb. She uses the example of rapper 50 Cent and the launching of his very own social network. It's a new trend that some say threatens to take people away from MySpace. With their own sites, artists control every aspect - including advertising, music and merchandise sales. But the biggest problem is the threat of social networking fatigue. I listen to a variety of music - everything from Tom Petty to Ice Cube (Lethal Injection is still one of the best rap albums of all time). I like the idea of MySpace Music because I already have a profile set up there. I really don't want to have dozens of profiles for individual artists' sites with dozens of usernames and passwords, dozens of new "friends" etc. I'd rather get it all in one place. Many artists are talking about simply redirecting their MySpace profiles to their own networks. Let's hope this doesn't happen - taking a robust, useful system whittling it down to hundreds or thousands of new social sites with such a narrow focus isn't good for anybody.

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