In a direct challenge to Apple's iTunes, MySpace
has announced its intention to sell songs from the 3 million unsigned bands on MySpace.com. Even more surprising: the songs will be sold as unprotected MP3s, free from DRM. MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe told Reuters: "Everyone we've spoken to definitely wants an alternative to iTunes and the iPod. MySpace could be that alternative."
Mashable readers won't be surprised to learn that the new feature will be powered by Snocap, the music distribution service from Napster founder Shawn Fanning. Snocap only recently launched a MySpace music player
, which allows users to buy unprotected songs via Paypal. Snocap charges the artists a small distribution fee, and most of the tracks are DRM-free. Unlike the fixed-price model of iTunes, artists on Snocap set their own price. Once the service is live, DeWolfe wants to add copyright-protected songs from major record companies, and it’s rumored that MySpace has spoken to EMI regarding the move.
It's worth noting that America's second largest social network, Facebook
put me down with this), is already a promoter of iTunes - it's currently giving away free iTunes tracks
to members. YouTube
is also getting into the music game: in mid-August the site announced its intention to host "every music video ever created
". And in late July, booming social network Bebo
launched Bebo Bands
, with a near-identical setup to MySpace music. But the move to sell music directly through an embedded player is a bold one: MySpace users are notoriously hard to monetize, yet they continue to pay for music downloads. This latest addition could help MySpace monetize its users far more effectively, dramatically increasing the site's revenue. With a $900 million search deal
under its belt, MySpace's revenue opportunities are looking better than ever before.
However, the move could spell trouble for some of the startups that are plugging in to MySpace. The music community ProjectOpus released their own MySpace music player
earlier this week, providing a link to a page where users can purchase the track. Sonific, another startup, has also begun an invite-only beta of its music player for MySpace
, blogs and social networks. Sonific is focused on building a massive database of licensed music, and users can buy the tracks through iTunes or CDBaby, with Sonific pocketing the affiliate commissions. Once MySpace begins to offer music sales directly through its own player, there's a risk that these services could be sidelined.
"Advancement" is not always an improvement. MYSPACE's qwest for world domination continues....