MySpace faces the music

October 22, 2009: 7:00 AM ET

To battle back against Facebook, MySpace tunes into more online music

MySpace, the once and would-be king of social media, is increasingly turning

Van Natta's MySpace is doubling down on music. Photo: MySpace

Van Natta's MySpace is doubling down on music. Photo: MySpace

toward music to combat a dominant Facebook, and keep its 125 million users coming back.

On Wednesday in San Francisco at the Web 2.0 Summit, MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta announced the launch of two new music products for the online site – one for the fans, the other for the bands.

Through its partnership with all the major record labels (and many of the indies), MySpace, a division of News Corp. (NWS), is putting entire music video catalogues online via a new digital hub within MySpace Music. You can think of the new service  -- unimaginatively dubbed "MySpace Music Videos" -- as a sort of Hulu for all those Lady Gaga and Daft Punk videos you watch at work all day long.

The hub's slick interface allows users to search videos alphabetically (artist or song), or by what friends are watching. Yes, you can watch day's-worth of music videos on YouTube right now, but it isn't quite as pretty as what MySpace is offering up.

Of course, there is commerce involved. It occurs via what MySpace is calling "dynamically targeted" buy buttons, which probably means nothing more than you will be able to purchase the tunes from Amazon or iTunes as you watch them.

Is the new service a time suck? You bet, but that is exactly what music videos are for. You can check it out as of today. (Whether Google is about to ruin MySpace's party with a music service of its own, as has been rumored online, ought to play out in the next week or so.)

Big in Japan

The other service Van Natta detailed is a sort of Google (GOOG) Analytics for your band.  While something called the MySpace Music Artist Dashboard, doesn't sound like something any self-respecting, hotel-room trashing band might admit to using, they should --or at least get some tech-savvy roadie to do it.

With the dashboard artists can get a quick glimpse of who has been listening to their songs or just checking out the band in the past week and past month. They can see which 15 songs are getting the most play, as well as the most popular track. The "heat map" provides of view of where a band's fan base is by city, state or country. Perfect when you are plotting that next big tour.

"As we worked with major musicians and management companies we realized their was huge demand for it," Van Natta says. But that kind of detailed view of what amounts to customers ultimately, isn't limited to just bands and solo artists.

"It's a model for how we can empower all the content producers on our site, whether it's musicians or other entertainment categories," Van Natta says." You can see how we can extend that model and offer it to the people who create a lot of the content on MySpace." Sounds like into everyone's creative lives, a dashboard is coming.

The day the Brainstorm Tech world tour kicks off (a day that is only in my imagination at the moment) you can bet I'll be checking the dashboard from the jet.

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About This Author
Michael Copeland
Michael Copeland

Michael V. Copeland joined FORTUNE as a senior writer in September 2007. Copeland has covered everything from electric cars to e-readers. He is a creator of Tech Mate, an irreverent video series in which he debates (and skewers) digital issues of the day. Before joining FORTUNE, Copeland was a senior writer at Business 2.0. Copeland graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

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