MySpace Music, Day One: Mixed reviews
There, they did it.
After months of speculation, MySpace relaunched its music site in the U.S. with the support of the four major recording companies. The new site comes with free streaming music and the ability to create and share playlists. MySpace needed to revamp the site, as we wrote about in today's paper, to keep up with fast-moving music upstarts such as iMeem and Last.fm.
Reviews so far have been mixed. It's like Napster... with a business model, says AllThingsD. You can tell the lawyers got out of the way, says paidContent, because "if the song is in the catalog, you can listen to what you want, as many times as you want, in any order you want, without interruption."
But it's still too cluttered, says Silicon Alley Insider. That's fine if MySpace Music wants to just keep its current audience happy. Not so good if it wants to be the central music stop on the Internet. Just 14% of people online have accessed music via social networks, according to the NPD Group. That leaves a lot of people who haven't found their social network music hangout yet and could make MySpace their place.
We've been playing around with it this morning and found that searching for some songs or a particular artist can be a challenge, an experience shared by Sonal Gandhi, an analyst at Jupiter Research, who told us she had the same problem, even with some of the featured artists.
"It's not a full offering," she said. "In the Web world, companies launch and improve on it, and over time, it becomes better. That's MySpace's strategy."
It's also not clear how to buy a song for some of the artists, something others such as Idolator have experienced when trying to buy the Top 10 digital tracks. Amazon is powering the e-commerce portion of the site, which one would think would be well-oiled since it is one of the few ways to get hard cash.
Matt Graves, vice president of marketing at iMeem, the music-centric social network, said it's great that MySpace lets users build playlists. But the constraints MySpace appears to place on the playlist, such as limiting the number of songs and restricting where people listen to the music, may be a problem for many.
"On iMeem, the length of your playlist is limited only by your imagination," he said.
Of course, iMeem and others have a stake in the MySpace launch too: They hope that MySpace will bring a lot of attention to music social services without sucking up all the advertising dollars.
-- Michelle Quinn and Swati Pandey
Image of MySpace Music site