Saturday, January 17, 2009

MIDEM 2009: MySpace waft out their music CEO

Music Ally continue to bring the freshest coverage of MIDEMNet, covering an appearance by Courtney Holt, who has arrived to run MySpace's music offering from Universal.

He talked a little about how MySpace will try to make money from online music, given that he sees free downloading as the "main competition". It's all about adding value:

The MySpace Secret Shows are one example, he says, where bands play smaller gigs for their fans. “Those types of programmes are really relevant, we’re going to expand into more of those,” he says.

Curiously, then, the main driver for marketing MySpace music - which offers the chance to put your music in front of the largest imaginable audience - is a series of teeny tiny gigs where you play music to the smallest possible audience. I'm not sure they've quite thought this one through.

Are they selling much?
Amazon is proving a good partner, although “we need to make the intent to buy and the purchase a little bit easier”, although MySpace is seeing “increasing intent to buy”.

What’s that? “People are clicking on buy links,” he says. “It’s gonna take some time, we know that’s challenging, but it’s also important to all of our partners.”

That, of course, is the sticking point: are MySpace making any money from this? Are the labels? And are the labels as prepared to wait as long as News International to see the massive MySpace audience start to turn into big piles of cash?

It turns out that MySpace has one strong card in persuading patience from its RIAA partners - not being Apple:
“The terms that we’re cutting with everybody are fair deals for us to be able to run this business. The labels do want to see other people survive as digital music offerings [than iTunes], they want to diversify their revenues.”

This, though, might prove a problem in the long run - if MySpace hope to replace Apple as the dominant music retailer on the web, the record labels would be just as unhappy as they are with the idea of Apple dominating.