The much-anticipated digital music service from MySpace could go live as early as Thursday, but most likely Friday, Billboard.biz has learned.
According to sources close to the discussions, UMG and WMG have either already signed agreements or are in the process of doing so today. EMI is not expected to be onboard at this time, and Sony BMG’s status remains questionable. Draft versions of a press release announcing the service are in the review stage, with only a few minor details, and a distribution date, left to finalize.
Simply called MySpace Music, the service is expected to be a one-stop destination for all things music, including DRM-free full-song downloads, ad-supported free full-song streaming, concert tickets, merchandise and ringtones. There may even be a mobile storefront that will include some or all of these services as well.
Representatives from MySpace declined to comment.
While the announcement is imminent, the service likely won’t go live for several months, sources say. Participating labels will need time to provision the service with not only their catalog, but also the other content expected to become available via the site.
The structure of the deal is what amounts to a joint venture between MySpace and the labels involved, with each getting some form of equity. One of the sticking points has always been Universal Music Group, which has an outstanding copyright infringement lawsuit pending against MySpace. Sources say that suit will be settled as part of the agreement.
UMG late last year also began limiting artists on its roster from streaming full songs on MySpace, instead asking them to either limit their music to 90-second clips or include voiceovers to the audio.
Rumors of the launch have been rife in recent weeks, with sources telling Billboard that MySpace has a real “sense of urgency” to get the service up and running. One source pointed to a $100 million investment by MySpace parent company News Corp.
The music industry has long sought to make MySpace a revenue opportunity. Sony BMG last year struck a side deal with MySpace for free streaming of music videos in return for a share of advertising revenue, and WMG worked out a deal with the SnoCap MyStores system that allowed artists to sell DRM copies of full song downloads.
So far, however, monetizing the network has not met its potential. The MySpace Music effort is expected to go well beyond these early steps.
It’s not yet known who will head up the new service. MySpace is expected to conduct an executive search to find the appropriate management team.