The EconMusic conference was graced today with its keynote speaker, Courtney Holt. Courtney is the CEO of MySpace Music, and the big question on everyone's minds was how, exactly, will MySpace make a profit on its activities?
He's "optimistic" that it will deliver revenue, which surely is a bit less gung-ho than you'd hope for if it was your business he was running. Ooh, yes, I'm sure we'll make revenue. Some day. But:
“I’m being very sober about how we’re going to get there, but my goal is to run a profitable business,” he said.
Well, yes. Since you're not rescuing orphan dolphins or trying to take underprivileged kids to Disneyland, I'd have assumed your goal would have been to make a profit. At some point.
There seems to be some sort of vague hope that, if the advertising market proves a little clunky, MySpace Music might be sitting on a goldmine of data:
Holt also said the site has a data goldmine that brands, artists and the labels all want access to: “We know whether someone has friended an artist, whether they listened to them on the band page, or their friend’s page, whether their friends are listening—and artists that engage will get access to that data.” He added that MySpace Music would share some of the data with users too, as part of efforts to streamline music search and site navigation.
Hmm. Well, yes, that information is valuable. But if I were someone who wanted to know that sort of information, I might take the view that - since I'm providing MySpace with the content it needs, MySpace might want to share the data with me in return. "Hey, build a page, put your music on it, and we'll sell you details of what tunes your fans listen to" seems to be an offer that is all-too-easy to refuse.
This all becomes more pressing against a backdrop of News International's announcement of over six billion dollars in the last quarter of 2008 and JP Morgan less than impressed with MySpace's overall prospects. It might actually turn out Rupert Murdoch is funding a cyberplayground philanthropically - albeit unwittingly.