MySpace Music goes live in the UK

MySpace has signed Fiat as the first sponsor of its long-awaited MySpace Music service, launched today to compete with established rivals such as Spotify and Last.fm by offering consumers access to millions of ad-funded tracks.

Florence and the Machine

MySpace Music is tightly integrated with the existing social network and allows users to stream an unlimited number of ad-funded tracks and videos, from artists including Chipmunk and Florence and the Machine, build playlists and click to download music via iTunes. Fiat has been signed as the launch sponsor, one year after the social network first started hunting for advertisers, to promote its new Punto Evo car.

The social network is looking to stem falling visitor numbers, which have plummeted by 34% year on year, to just over 5m unique users according to Comscore.

The US launch of MySpace Music in September 2008 saw traffic to that section of the site grow by 100% year on year.MySpace Music is aiming to generate an estimated 130m page impressions from the service within six weeks. A marketing campaign, created by ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty and media agency Vizeum, features artists including Chipmunk and N-Dubz.

Courtney Holt, president of MySpace Music, said it went beyond what was offered by existing online music services.

³We want to be the richest and most vibrant social discovery platform that exists anywhere. The purpose is to thread throughout it a suite of tools and services to provide exposure for music,² said Holt. ³We have a licensed catalogue of streaming music but we don¹t want to offer it in a utility format, as just a place to search and browse.²

The much-delayed UK service has been hit by a range of issues but now forms a lynchpin for the future of MySpace. The launch followed MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta¹s announcement about repositioning the social network around content in October.

³I wasn¹t happy with the product, it had a lot of problems,² said Holt.
³There was a different expectation, ad market, financial climate, not all the right partnerships were in place and there was the management reorganisation of MySpace in the background. We¹ll now focus on music as a proxy for the future of MySpace.²

Rival music service provider Last.fm welcomed the entrance of MySpace as having a halo effect.

Miles Lewis, senior VP, international advertising sales for CBS Interactive Music Group/Last.fm, said, ³It will continue to make the labels pay attention to digital music delivery. If Murdoch is able to grow the market then we will all benefit.²

Brands will be offered a range of integrated ad opportunities.

Fiat¹s debut six-week campaign will feature across the main site and ³own² the music section, which includes twice weekly home page takeovers.

It will also sponsor a 16-track Music Evolution playlist, created by users to represent the soundtrack of their lives.

Elena Bernardelli, marketing director for Fiat UK, said, ³We¹re connecting to people with heavy media consumption, who are early adopters and are passionate about music.²

Media agencies including MEC Interaction, which booked the Fiat campaign, welcomed MySpace Music as a way to reach a large existing audience, despite its recent declines.

³MySpace was the first big social network and has naturally evolved into a place to go for music. It makes sense for it to have a music play which Facebook will struggle to match. It¹s a USP and could have a significant impact,² said Andy Wasef, emerging platforms director at MEC Interaction.

³This gives users a reason to spend more time there. Previously it was trying to be all things to all people.²

Steve Mayall, director of music consultancy MusicAlly, warned, ³The opportunity for MySpace is that it still has massive brand appeal and remains relevant. But it¹s going to be difficult for MySpace to create a business based on ad-funded music streaming alone.²

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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