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

MySpace's U.S. Visitors Dropped 8% Last Month
-- MySpace's U.S. traffic is dropping while the company retools under new ownership. The social network had 30.5 million unique U.S. visitors in September, down 7.6 percent from 33 million in July, according to new numbers released by comScore.

MySpace has been all but written off by some folks, but comScore's numbers show the site is still a major destination for U.S. web users. Its 30.5 million unique U.S. visitors in September placed it at #35 on comScore's list of top 50 U.S. web properties for the month. MySpace had just 1.8 million fewer than Twitter and about 2.5 million more than NBC Universal.

The company can hardly stand to lose eyeballs. Now owned by Specific Media, which acquired it for $35 million in June, MySpace is overhauling the service, wooing brands for sponsorships and advertising and aiming to take advantage of its large catalog of licensed music. "Right now, if you create a great experience, it's still wrapped in a bad product and consumers reject it. We want to get that right and pump out product on a monthly basis from there," Tim Vanderhook, co-founder of Specific Media and CEO of MySpace, told Billboard.biz earlier this month.

MySpace will be a music-focused site. Vanderhook alluded to plans for an Internet radio product that would put it in competition with market leader Pandora, as well as an on-demand service similar to Spotify and Rhapsody. Justin Timberlake is a part-owner and creative director.

But it's clear which is the dominant social network in the country. Facebook - the #4 U.S. web property behind collections of sites by Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft - had 163 million unique U.S. visitors in September, up from 153 million in January. (Press release)

Paywall Approach Paying Off for New York Times

-- The paywall strategy seems to be working for the New York Times. Speaking at the World Editors Forum in Vienna, Jim Roberts, assisting managing editor for digital, says the Times experienced a 2.3 percent year-over-year increase in unique U.S. visitors in September. He called the growth to 34 million unique visitors "incredibly surprising" and admitted he had originally fought against the idea.

At the end of June, the Times had 224,000 paid digital subscribers. Roberts said the company currently has 756,000 digital subscribers who get a free account through their home delivery of the newspaper. (Bundling free, online access with print subscriptions is a common tactic.) The paywall was introduced in late March.

The Times and the music industry have more in common than might at first meet the eye. Both have embraced freemium business models that allow limited access to ad-supported content. Both are taking approaches that build value (premium content and features for paying customers) rather than destroy value to make free business models viable (if all content was free, quality would be imperiled). And both are content to sacrifice some low-value users to attract high-value users. Roberts says the Times has experienced a drop in page views but has had "very little decline domestically." Recall that Spotify was reported to have had a surge in paying subscribers when it limited free access.

The idea that people won't pay for digital content is quickly becoming outdated. Companies are simply doing a better job of figuring out ways to serve both paying and non-paying consumers. Content industries are hardly out of the woods, but the Times' paywall is proof that successes are possible. ( Journalism.co.uk, via Rob Levine's Free Ride blog)

PayPal Pays!
-- Here's a statistic worth pondering: consumers will purchased $4.7 billion worth of digital goods using PayPal this year. This number was announced at eBay's X.commerce Innovate developers conference, according to Mashable. Included in that $4.7 billion are purchasd of virtual currencies such as Facebook credits, which can be used to purchase digital goods such as music, video, news and virtual goods for video games. "Music has been a heavy, heavy focus for us," PayPal's Senior Director of Emerging Opportunities Carey Kolaja told Mashable. (Mashable)

Nimbit Partners With PledgeMusic
-- Direct-to-consumer provider Nimbit has partnered with PledgeMusic to create the PledgeStore for the PledgeMusic platform. PledgeStore is a free, Nimbit-powered storefront that allows artists to sell their digital tracks, album and tickets directly from the PledgeMusic site. Artists can set their own pricing and reward visitors with free tracks. The store appears on the artist's tab at PledgeMusic.com once the funding goal is reached. PledgeMusic is a platform that allows artists to raise money for their projects. If you're familiar with Kickstarter, you get the idea. ( Nimbit blog)

Bandcamp Adds Options
-- Add Bandcamp to the growing list of direct-to-consumer services that enable artists to sell and stream music on a Facebook app. The app creates a tab on the artist's Facebook page that closely resembled the artist's Bandcamp web page. (Bandcamp, via Hypebot)