Well well well. There seems to be a few different sides to this, let’s take a quick look.
MySpace became incredibly popular a few years back, largely due to the fact that people used the service to discover independent music, and socialize with an alt crowd. MySpace now has 120 million users (can a 120 million MySpace users really be alt!?)
In a move to compete with iTunes’ market dominance for digital music sales, MySpace decided to launch MySpace Music. Funny enough though, MySpace Music will not sell music, but stream it. I guess they’re going to provide links to AmazonMP3 (which apparently sells digital music) and receive a share of the profits generated by Amazon’s sales. MySpace Music will also generate revenue through banner advertisements, and presumably by “featuring” artists on the site.
MySpace has negotiated a deal with The Big 4 (Sony BMG, EMI, Warner, & Universal) to be partners in the new venture. In exchange for equity, The Big 4 are providing their entire catalogs to stream, for free.
This makes MySpace Music a joint venture. Meaning, all profits generated by MySpace Music will go into the pockets of MySpace, Sony BMG, EMI, Warner, & Universal (and Amazon, when the profits are for digital music sales).
No independent music has been included in the launch of MySpace Music. However, MySpace is currently negotiating with thousands of independent labels (the same ones that helped make MySpace popular in the first place) and assure us that free streaming for “indie” music will be added to the site. Which makes sense, because MySpace Music’s traffic will (presumably) vastly increase when independent music is added to the mix. Unless of course, the 120 million MySpace users are willing to jeopardize their alt authenticity by listening to more major label music.
Now here’s the real kicker, it does not look like any independent labels will be given equity in MySpace Music. Guess what this means? The hugely increased profits for MySpace Music, due to the inclusion of independent music, will go straight into the pockets of The Big 4. Genius! If The Big 4 have to suffer lost revenue to the hands of independent labels (which they are, badly), then just create a scenario where the popularity of independent music generates revenue for The Big 4 (or maybe just sign better musicians and open your eyes to the current state of the music industry).
More “professional” explanations of this business venture all over the Interweb.
Now here’s some mainstream (but still still kind of indie) music, streamed for free, courtesy of La ¡Cinta!
A Jack White rarity:
Jack White Cold Brains (Beck Cover) (live & unreleased)
Beck Cold Brains – from Mutations (1998)