iTunes had surpassed Wal-Mart as the number one music retailer in the United States, MySpace announced that it had joined with three of four major labels (EMI isn't on board yet) to launch their own iTunes killer. As they did previously for Amazon, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony BMG have agreed to let MySpace sell music DRM-free. But the big question is: Why just the majors?On the same day that Apple announced that
"MySpace is reaching into its roots with the music service," wrote the Dow Jones news service. "MySpace became popular as a way for users to connect with their favorite bands and add songs to their profile pages. Listening to music remains one of the most popular activities on the site, which has since branched into online video and other media efforts."
It's true that MySpace owes much of its success to its popularity with musicians, and the service could certainly be a game changer. Search for almost any major musical act in Google and you're almost certain to find three things on the first page of results: the artist's official page, the artist's wikipedia page, and the artist's MySpace page. With it's position as the current generation's MTV, the potential for MySpace to serve as a serious hub for music sales is believable. And as we noted in February, chief rival Facebook has a long way to go to catch up with MySpace in the area of music.
But MySpace doesn't just cater to the major acts -- much of the appeal of the social network is in the ability to connect directly with local, long tail acts. That's where its true roots lie. As Matt Rosoff writes on CNET's Crossfade blog, "major label acts are a small part of the MySpace experience... MySpace is the ultimate long tail site for musicians, where bar bands and small-town heroes can appear in the same context as the biggest bands in the world."
What we're looking for next from MySpace is to extend the functionality of their music store to every musical act using the site. That would certainly be a game changer and would make it easier for small acts to build awareness and cultivate their "true fans." In essence, it would make it simple for any small band to put out their work on the web's label: MySpace.