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Wishful Thinking and MySpace Music Will Make Stars out of Independent Artists July 31, 2009

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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“I build for the lazy and stupid,” said Courtney Holt, the president of MySpace Music.

He was on stage in a New York University auditorium at the New Music Seminar, discussing how the online music service formed by the world’s second largest social network and all four of the largest recording companies hopes to dominate the business.

Mr. Holt, who left MTV Networks as former executive vice president of digital music and media in November 2008, revealed his plan for the future of MySpace Music.

He plans to take advantage of MySpace Music’s edge over Apple’s iTunes and Amazon: social media metrics and user-generated content.

Mr. Holt plans to make the site a data goldmine for figuring out what’s going to be the next big thing in pop music–helpful not only to artists and users, but producers and agents, too. They’ll publish trends, track influencers and create lists of top-played and playlisted content of not only major bands and artists but also of all the independent work on millions of MySpace artist pages.

If done right, they could create a new kind of Top 40 hit list for online music. Mr. Holt said he also hopes MySpace Music will be the “most informed” how-to guide to transitioning from a dive bar band to the next big act at Madison Square Garden.

Mr. Holt keeps a list of what kind of bands and artists are going to break out based on MySpace Music’s behind-the-scenes metrics. And he doesn’t just pay attention to “play counts” of specific songs or artists, but the “playlists” made by users and shared on their profiles.

“It’s more interesting to know that the artist is being playlisted than played,” Mr. Holt explained. Mr. Holt said they’ll even be paying close attention to how many times a user plays a song or adds an artist to their playlist before they actually buy a CD or purchase a ticket to a show and support the band.

“Despite the fact that I think the iPod shuffle has changed the minds of the consumer, most radio stations don’t have permission, outside of maybe college radio stations, to play Miles Davis and Bad Brains back to back. So perhaps MySpace Music will take on a more Pandora-like approach to programming their featured playlists and own online radio station.

Mr. Holt said it is one of his priorities for MySpace Music to make money for the broader music industry and plans to offer more opportunities for users to buy products. He said this after New Music Seminar director Tom Silverman kicked off the event by displaying dismal charts–with plummetting graph lines–denoting music sales.

According to his numbers, 105,575 albums were released in 2008, and just 110 artists sold more than 250,000 albums that year.

News Corp. chief executive Rupert Murdoch recently said MySpace needs to be refocused “as an entertainment portal” and a place where “people are looking for common interests,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

But MySpace is only one partner in MySpace Music, and all those record companies who invested in the new venture are banking on musicians selling more than a couple hundred thousand albums.

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