MySpace Music service is launching tonight around 9pm PST. (It's the old site at that link right now.) We just got off the phone with the company for a briefing and we liked what we saw. It's going to be a very big deal.The long awaited
Users will be able to assemble playlists from a huge catalog of songs from all four major labels and from independent distributor The Orchard, full length songs are all streamable for free, users will be able to purchase DRM-free MP3s through a close integration with the AmazonMP3 service and developers will have a gradually increasing amount of access to user activity data from the Music section. Screen shots below.
The MySpace Music interface looks quite nice, with drag and drop playlist creation, dynamically re-populating players and a pop-up player that plays music when you leave a page. There are a lot of nice little touches.
One of the most interesting might be that when you're listening to an artist in the music player, you see a feed of their most recent profile activity right next to it. MySpace says this means "you can be a part of their lives and they of yours!" That might be an insultingly condescending way to describe it, but the feature is cool.
Below: Search and playlist building.
Below: The player.
There's been some question about who will run MySpace Music and sure enough, the project is launching without a CEO. The company gave us a typically disingenuous PR explanation that they "are being really picky" about selecting one.
That's inconsequential for users, though, isn't it? Brand advertisers paying for all this streaming music is great news for us. MySpace wouldn't go into any details about anything financial but said they had "a very close relationship with Amazon." Who knows what that means? Maybe that AmazonMP3 really hopes to ride MySpace's coat tails to market dominance and thus gave them a good break.
What About the Competition?
We've written extensively about competition in the streaming music space but we asked MySpace about Imeem in particular. SVP of Product Strategy Steve Pearman said "it's hard to build community around content alone" (probably news to Imeem) and pointed out that MySpace could be considered the world's second largest provider of email service behind Hotmail.
Apparently the point is that MySpace is a huge full-service stop where people are already gathering. We buy that and we think MySpace Music will be a strong player. This author intends to try it out at length, if for no other reason than to get away from the PR agents crawling all over Facebook. We've written about what the perfect streaming music service might look like - we wonder how close this will come.
Check it out for yourself later tonight and let us know what you think.