MySpace exploring ad-supported music venture

According to reports, MySpace - or rather its parent company News Corp. - has been exploring forming a joint music venture with the major record labels: Universal Music, Sony BMG, Warner Music and EMI, to offer an ad-supported music service.

Watch out Last.FM, Imeem, We7 and SpiralFrog, MySpace could be about to enter the ad-supported music game.

According to an earlier report by paidContent and echoed in yesterday's Financial Times, MySpace - or rather its parent company News Corp. - has been exploring forming a joint music venture with the major record labels: Universal Music, Sony BMG, Warner Music and EMI.

It's thought that the new service, tentatively called 'MySpace Music', would allow MySpace users to listen to music streamed for free to their computers, following a model similar to other social music sites, Imeem and, more recently, Last.FM. Another option being explored is to offer either paid-for or ad-supported DRM-free downloads alongside streaming.

However, for Universal Music to get involved, a major obstacle will need to be removed first. The company sued MySpace in November 2006, accusing it of copyright infringement by allowing users to post its artists’ songs and videos on their profiles without clearance. "The two sides have been discussing a settlement, according to a person familiar with the matter, although the talks remained fluid", reports the FT.

While it's not clear how far the joint venture is to becoming realized, the move would appear to be aligned with the interests of all potential partners. MySpace is aggressively implementing a strategy to become a serious media property, whereby social networking is organized around major brand and professionally-produced content as much as it is around so-called User Generated Content. The major record labels, on the other hand, are desperately trying to wrest control away from Apple's iTunes, hence the willingness to experiment with not only DRM-free downloads (think Amazon MP3) but also ad-supported models.

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