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MySpace Music Australia Launches Without Leading Local & Global Independent Content–F=ck You Very Much Rupert Murdoch October 10, 2009

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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MySpace’s disregard for the value of independent music has been exposed by yesterday’s Australian launch of MySpace Music prior to having finalized a license with Australia’s leading independent labels and artists.

MySpace Music Australia launched with the support of the four major record labels (Warner, EMI, Sony Music and Universal) all of whom are venture partners in the service.

The inequity of this situation is clear:

* 40% of the equity in MySpace Music is owned by major labels, the rest by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and its US launch was beset by criticism from leading US and European labels who are still not present on the service.

* In not finalising an equitable deal with the most important independents in the world, including Australia’s leading companies such as Shock, Inertia, MGM and Liberation/Mushroom, MySpace Music have shown, as they did with the launch of their US service, scant regard for the value of independent rights.

* Approximately 30% of Australia’s market share is independent. This includes artists like The John Butler Trio, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, The Temper Trap, Urthboy, The Herd, Midnight Juggernauts, Bertie Blackman, Adam Brand, Birds of Tokyo, The Getaway Plan, Nick Cave, Sia, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, The Drones and thousands of others. NONE OF WHOM ARE AVAILABLE FOR STREAMING ON MYSPACE MUSIC.

While it is acknowledged that MySpace has immeasurably changed the music landscape, it cannot be forgotten that its success was built on the back of millions of independent artists.

At the launch of their US service in 2008[1] , Chris DeWolfe’s (Founder and CEO of MySpace) comments that “indie bands are really the heart of MySpace” took on an air of hypocrisy when MySpace launched without the major independents represented by independents global licensing agency Merlin – which collectively represents 10% of all music sales , including the world’s largest indies such as Beggars Group, Epitaph Records, PIAS, Koch/E1, Cooking Vinyl and Domino and Australia’s leading independent labels Shock, Inertia and Liberation.

Since then the venture has attracted much criticism in the USA for its lack of commercial success, including comments by its venture partners such as Warner Chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr who branded the service “Disappointing”[2].

The deal offered to independents means the venture’s major label partners, who together dominate the market, would profit from independent repertoire without giving independents an equivalent opportunity to share in the venture’s success. The implication being that MySpace considers independent music to be of inherently less value than music owned by the major labels.

Said Charles Caldas, Merlin’s CEO “MySpace Music’s ongoing disregard for the value of independent repertoire is underlined again with this Australian MySpace Music launch. For MySpace, which has build its brand on the breadth and diversity of its music, to launch a service without the valuable global independent repertoire Merlin represents is disappointing enough, but to launch without offering the repertoire of any of the major Australian independents shows an enormous arrogance towards the Australian independent community.

“As a result, Australian consumers are being presented with a significantly inferior offering via this launch, with a gaping hole left by the local and international companies that have been excluded. For MySpace Music Australia to be successful, the artists we and our Australian members represent must be onboard, and their absence will be instrumental in turning the most active music fans away from the service”

Commented Marcus Seal, Managing Director of Shock Group of Companies “Whilst MySpace: has played a role in providing access to a diverse range of Australian artists’ music, it has generated huge advertising revenue without any recompense to those from whom it has profited. Shock has worked with thousands of emerging Australian artists and we’re deeply affronted at MySpace’s appalling attitude to this most creative sector of the artistic community”.

Ashley Sellers, PPCA Board Member, Founder of Inertia Records said “Inertia is a proud supporter of Australian independent music and we are extremely disappointed with the disrespect with which MySpace has treated our local independent sector”

David Vodicka, Chairman of The Australian Independent Record Labels Association and Owner of Rubber Records, referring to the fact that the ALP’s Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Peter Garret as well as the oppositions Malcom Turnbul and Julie Bishop have provided personal playlists on the service: “It is extremely disappointing that Australia’s leading politicians have provided their tacit endorsement of this new service, without regard to the rights of Australian independent creators and content owners. Small business within the Australian music industry is the big loser here”

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.