MySpace COO: Music deal spawned from user demands

Users want the ability to buy music they listen to on the social network, says Amit Kapur

MySpace's deal to join with three of the world's four largest music companies to create a joint service was prompted in large part by demands from many of the social network's 110 million users for the ability to download and buy music, concert tickets and other items, said Amit Kapur, MySpace chief operating officer.

The new MySpace Music service, announced this week, pairs the social network with Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, which are providing their entire music catalogues. Kapur declined to comment on why EMI Music, the fourth major record company, was not part of the announcement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The joint venture -- which marks MySpace's first foray into selling products -- expands the social network's existing music platform to provide users with DRM-free digital music downloads, ad-supported audio and video streaming, a mobile phone storefront and a concert ticket sales office.

While he didn't comment directly when asked if the deal signals that music labels are giving up their own services to instead align with distributors that resonate with buyers, Kapur did say that people are experiencing music in a much more social way.

"They want their music and content online in an environment that is personal, portable and collaborative," he said. "That is what you get on MySpace. I can find the music that I want and share it with my friends. When I find a new song that I like there is disconnect between listening to that song and purchasing it. [Users were saying] why can't I download a song or buy a concert ticket from your site. That was the inspiration."

The goal of the new venture is to build on the existing traffic and popularity of MySpace's existing music platform, which the company says now attracts 30 million unique visitors a month to hear music of five million artists. The service will integrate new content across the MySpace Music home page, the site's artist profile pages and individual MySpace user home pages to provide multiple opportunities to discover, share and purchase music for any device, the companies said.

"With these three leading companies, we are going to take what has been a rich and vibrant community on MySpace Music to the next level," Kapur said. "We want our music platform to be frictionless - discovery, consumption and sharing of music will exist in one environment."

The new service lets users can control their MySpace Music use from their own home page by using enhanced search tools to create playlists and purchase music, MySpace said. At the same time, musicians can use the service to sell digital downloads, mobile ring tones and artist wallpapers directly from their artist profiles.

The new services will begin rolling out over the next few months, Kapur said.

The new service will be based in Los Angeles and will be run by a dedicated executive team.

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld

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