MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta used his MidemNet keynote to celebrate the return to growth in user numbers on the social network following its recent revamp.

MidemNet in Cannes, which runs Jan. 23-27, is the digital-focused sibling of the main MIDEM conference and trade fair. MIDEM begins tomorrow (Jan. 24).

Billboard editorial director Bill Werde interviewed Owen Van Natta for his first keynote outside the U.S. And the MySpace CEO took the opportunity to tell the packed Debussy Auditorium about MySpace's success since he took the job nine months ago.

As reported earlier on Billboard.biz, MySpace had 7% growth in users last month, according to comScore data. MySpace Music, the social network's dedicated music joint venture with the major labels, had 92% growth in unique users year on year, and 30% growth in the past month. It follows new launches in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.

"I'm excited by the progress we've made over the last nine months and really excited about what we have going forward," said Van Natta. "It's the first growth we've had on the site [MySpace] since the middle of last year."

He described the growth for MySpace Music as an "incredible success story." It now has 180 million playlists created by users.

Van Natta acknowledged the improvements to the MySpace service, describing a "huge amount of progress on evolving our technical platform" as well as the "dramatically reduced page download times." As well as technical and product improvements, he emphasized the input of a new management team and made positive references to the "great talent" in terms of staff that MySpace took on when it acquired iLike.

There was also a hint about changing the existing branding on the iLike application, which lets fans add music to their profile on various social networks. Van Natta said MySpace was looking into the branding in order that "people don't get confused."

"We today enjoy what I believe is the largest ad-supported music business on the Web," he added.

In terms of further growth, the MySpace CEO stressed that "consumers want a very holistic experience as relates to music." That statement equates to audio music, as well as videos - the majors added music videos to MySpace Music in Q4 - artist activity and interaction among users.

MySpace Music is also experimenting with selling tickets and merchandise and has integrated iTunes download sales alongside Amazon. Asked about the move into ticketing, he said it had been "incredibly successful" and wanted to integrate such services "much more deeply" though declined to reveal any data.

Van Natta described his goal for a "diversified revenue stream" for MySpace, and he highlighted the opportunities for business from brands who are looking to change their approach to advertising and marketing as a result of the economic downturn.

"We are taking advantage of big brands re-evaluating ad spend," he said. MySpace has partnered with Citi on its "Secret Shows," putting on 50 events to date with acts including Jay-Z and Weezer, as well as partnering with Toyota on a free download promotion.

At a time when Facebook has become such a crucial platform for artists, there was also a reminder, too, about what MySpace can offer - including the new partnership with Sound Exchange, which will aim to get artists their share of the $15 million in royalties owed from digital airplay of music on Internet and satellite radio.

MySpace also offers artists invaluable metrics, said Van Natta, thanks to products like the Global Artist Dashboard. The geographical responses from MySpace users can help bands to map a global tour, and there are also real-time most-played charts across MySpace globally.

Integration with other platforms was also outlined as a continuing trend - Twitter and MySpace can now be integrated by users - and Van Natta spoke of a "continued investment in mobile" while conceding that mobile platforms do not offer such a "robust" advertising market as standard Web pages.

Asked about the role of MySpace within parent company News Corp., and the pressure to hit targets, Van Natta said his company was given the required level of autonomy. He spoke of his conversations with Rupert Murdoch of building a "next generation content distribution platform," describing it as an "incredibly strategic asset" for a global media company like News Corp.

There were also natural synergies with sister companies, with "Avatar" one example. "We were able to bring some incredible experiences to users," he said. "It's a real benefit to the company to be part of News Corp."