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For MySpace, a lot rides on music service launch

September 17, 2008 |  7:30 am
The stars of 'Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist'

MySpace, the social networking site owned by News Corp., is hoping to reclaim its mantle as king of the digital music sites when it relaunches its music site sometime this month.

The launch is being closely watched by the music industry as well as by Internet companies, such as iMeem, iLike and Lastfm.com, that have built their businesses on letting people create playlists, share musical interests and connect with other fans. What will MySpace, with its audience of 61 million or so, do differently in this crowded space?

A few things are notable: MySpace Music will be a joint effort between MySpace and, at the moment,  three of the four major labels (it is still negotiating with EMI Group). The partners will split the revenue. That has led independent bands and their agents to complain that MySpace is forgetting the little guy who helped it in its early days, says Wired. And the joint venture has yet to find someone to run it, one possible reason the launch may be delayed, says Silicon Alley Insider.

The new MySpace Music will include free streaming of music that is ad-supported as well as a digital music store powered by Amazon.com, says Fortune. On Monday, the company announced four sponsors: Sony Pictures, Toyota, McDonald's and State Farm, which will be putting their ads on such things as free song downloads and a playlist of songs recommended by celebrities. To promote the opening of Sony Pictures' "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist," pictured above, the movie studio will be "skinning" all MySpace Music user profile playlists with branding from the film for a week.

MySpace may want to move fast. In the last year, the social network's traffic growth has been flat, says Mashable, citing new Nielsen Online numbers. In comparison, Facebook has grown 100% in the last year.

And given that music is often a big driver of online growth, MySpace may not like these stats either: According to ComScore Media Metrix, MySpace music attracted 14.4 million unique viewers in August, down 8% from a year ago. In comparison, AOL Music attracted 23 million viewers, up 25% from a year ago. MTV Network Music and Yahoo Music had about the same -- 17.6 million.

-- Michelle Quinn

Photo: Actors Kat Dennings and Michael Cera, stars of the upcoming "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist." Credit: Malcolm Taylor / Getty Images

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