We knew it was coming but now it's official
MySpace has announced the formation of MySpace Music, a new joint venture with three of the four major record labels: Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and Warner Music.
The new service, which will roll out in stages over the next few months, will offer ad-supported music streaming on MySpace, as well DRM-free downloads (MP3), ringtones, and other e-commerce offerings (think: t-shirts and concert tickets).
Two notable takeaways from the announcement:
First is the inclusion of Universal who prior to today had an ongoing lawsuit with MySpace over copyright infringement on the social networking site. Presumably that's now been settled (see TechCrunch).
Second is the notable omission of EMI, who are said to still be in negotiation with MySpace. I wonder what the hold up is, considering the deal was favorable enough for the other three major labels.
MySpace vs iTunes
More broadly, this new joint venture is all about leveraging MySpace as 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. And for the major record labels, it's the latest move to weaken Apple's hold on the digital music download market, especially now that iTunes is the number one U.S. music retailer.