MySpace will turn MySpace Music into a joint venture with three of the four major record labels (EMI is sitting things out, at least for now). The new service will provide free, ad-supported streams; shareable, customized playlists; and DRM-free ad-supported or paid downloads. From the New York Times:
Visitors to the site will be able to listen to free streaming music, paid for with advertising, and share customized playlists with their friends. They will also be able to download tracks to play on their mobile devices, putting the new site in competition with similar services like Apple, Amazon and eMusic.
A subscription-based music component, where users pay a monthly amount for unlimited access to downloadable tracks, is also being considered, [MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe] said.
“This is really a mega-music experience that is transformative in a lot of ways,” he said. “It’s the first service that offers a full catalog of music to be streamed for free, with full community features, to be shared with all of your friends.”
MySpace has long been a great site for music discovery but has had trouble monetizing that. The social network was sued by Universal in 2006 (presumably that lawsuit’s being dropped since Universal will now be part of MySpace Music) and has a host of competitors in the music discovery space, among them sites like RCRDLBL and Muxtape. And undoubtedly, MySpace wants to capture some of the ever-growing online music sales business; Apple has just superpassed Wal-Mart as the top music retailer in the United States.