Exclusive: MySpace Launches New Music Player, Search Function, Facebook Integration
Exclusive: MySpace Launches New Music Player, Search Function, Facebook Integration

MySpace has some big plans in store for its forthcoming relaunch. Multiple sources have told Billboard.biz they have been very impressed with the new MySpace platform and say the company wants once again to be music fans' favored place on the Web to discover new music.

According to those sources, MySpace wants to provide independent artists with a media-rich page that will connect them with their fans and help them build a meaningful career. That would put MySpace in the same land rush as companies such as MTV -- which will soon launch its own artist-focused pages at artists.mtv -- and BandPage, which provides tools to create a one-stop shop at Facebook. The new-and-improved MySpace is expected to launch in late 2012 or early 2013, according to one source.

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MySpace has already announced a music competition series that may help the company retake its role as a vital platform for artist discovery. "Take the Stage" was created in partnership with online talent network Yobi.tv and will online viewers vote on the winner of the 18-week competition. As manager Johnny Wright told Billboard.biz earlier this week, "It's going back to up and coming musicians and giving them a platform to take them all the way to the top 10 that we have on our charts right now."

Specific Media - along with part-owner Justin Timberlake -- acquired MySpace in 2011 for $35 million. When the deal was completed, Specific Media said it planned to make MySpace the "premiere digital destination for original shows, video content and music."

One thing that is already known is MySpace is working on a TV play. Specific Media is working with audio identification company Audible Magic and Panasonic to integrate a MySpace app into the TV that recognizes a song playing in a program and connects the viewer to that particular artist's MySpace page.

Exclusive: MySpace Launches New Music Player, Search Function, Facebook Integration

Specific Media certainly has some options for sprucing up MySpace. A good e-commerce function would allow artists to sell their music and merchandise in addition to giving away audio and video streams. Since MTV's artist pages will integrate Topspin-powered e-commerce tools, MySpace might need something similar to attract artists. Ticketing is another possibility. In the years since MySpace was dominant, concert-listing sites (Songkick, Bandsintown, Thrillcall) and ticketing services have made great strides to become more social media-friendly.

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There are some areas where MySpace should probably not venture. The company has a vast catalog of music - including deals with the four majors - and the potential to improve its non-interactive and on-demand streaming options. But the company might be best served to hunker down and focus on only one thing. If MySpace is intent on offering the best artist pages, it probably couldn't offer an Internet radio or on-demand service that could compete with the major players in Internet radio and on-demand music.

But whatever form it ultimately takes, sources say the revived MySpace is likely to be much more of a player than it currently is in the crowded field of online music.

Traffic to MySpace was cut in half from November 2010 to November 2011, just before the site relaunched its music player in Decembe, according to ComScore. But activity has since stabilized and even recovered a bit, with 26 million monthly unique visitors in April 2012 (compared to 24.9 million last November.) That's thanks in part to the stickier new music player and an original content strategy, helmed by former Fox exec Roger Mincheff, that has included music series like the Andrew W.K.-starring "Let's Big Happy" and, just this week, " Take The Stage" with Timberlake's manager Johnny Wright and producer Rodney Jerkins.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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