MySpace announces today that they will launch MySpace Music, a service to rival Apple’s popular iTunes music player and marketplace. Like iTunes, MySpace Music will feature streaming music, paid DRM-free MP3 downloads and music-related merchandise.
MySpace Music is a joint venture with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. The other major recording company, EMI, may still sign on, possibly even before MySpace Music launches. The launch dates has not been set, but MySpace CEO Chris De Wolfe says that commercial features will roll out over the coming three or four months.
MySpace Chief Operating Officer Amit Kapur told Reuters that through this venture, MySpace Music “goes from being a promotional vehicle to being a commercial vehicle.” MySpace already features 5 million artists and 30 million members who listen to music through the site.
Analysts and bloggers are applauding MySpace and music companies for working to “modernize the music industry,” as CNET put it. Reuters quoted Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey as saying that
MySpace Music was the right step for music companies, but noted, “Apple will not be affected for the first few years because Apple’s iTunes store lives on the strength of Apple’s devices.”
He added, “One implication of this is that Apple may decide to improve its store experience, but I don’t honestly see it trying to compete as a social network.”
The deal is reportedly nonexclusive for the music companies. The announcement allegedly follows a settlement between MySpace and Universal over a copyright lawsuit. MySpace Music could eventually be spun off into a stand-alone venture, but De Wolfe told paidContent that it’s unlikely that they will work with distribution partners at this point.