MySpace, a website considered the hip place to socialise online, announced it will enable members to sell their music. MySpace said it made a deal with San Francisco digital music technology firm SNOCAP to provide musicians and studios tools to sell tunes in a virtual storefront on the website.
A beta version of the service began testing with offerings from a few bands and MySpace expected to have the polished service rolled out in the United States by year’s end.
"MySpace has become the de facto home and community page for bands," MySpace chief executive officer Chris DeWolfe told AFP. "It really made sense to give them the tools to sell their music via e-commerce to their fans."
SNOCAP would provide "end-to-end" digital licensing and copyright management services for the music sold on MySpace, a unit of Fox Interactive Media in Los Angeles. Among the SNOCAP founders was Shawn Fanning, former head of the controversial Napster music file swapping website he helped create in 1999.
Recording studios and musicians charged Napster with abetting rampant sharing of copyrighted songs and the ensuing legal battle ended with a California federal court ordering it to block trading of protected music.
SNOCAP technology reportedly employed electronic fingerprinting of songs and a vast registry of copyrighted works to prevent protected music from being uploaded.
"We are very conscious of artists’ rights and them protecting their music," DeWolfe said while discussing the new MySpace service with AFP. "We want to make sure they are in charge. That is really a key piece of the technology."
Along with being able to buy songs from artists at MySpace digital storefronts, members will be able to "embed" music as soundtracks in profile pages so that the tunes play for visitors, DeWolfe explained. People who like what they hear will be able to buy the music, according to MySpace.
"It’s cool because it mirrors how music is discovered in the offline world," DeWolfe said. "Most people hear about new music through their friends."
The MySpace website, a virtual clubhouse where teenagers bare details of their lives through journals, photos and videos, has star status on the Internet.
"MySpace has become one of the largest promotional tools for artists and labels to distribute their music to fans," said DeWolfe. "By introducing a powerful commercial tool set into the industry, we expect to see artists translate their community reach into sales, ultimately allowing more bands to make a living and connect with fans."
Musicians would set the prices for music, which would be distributed in MP3 format. The partnership marked the first music e-commerce deal for MySpace and SNOCAP, which would get fees from the music sales.
"Until now bands faced the challenges of content availability, technology and distribution," said MySpace president Tom Anderson. "This music service enables artists and labels to oversee their own commercial and distribution platforms while lowering the barriers for all bands to sell music directly to their fans in a way that’s easy and totally legal."
After rolling the service out in the United States, MySpace would extend it to markets in other countries. MySpace operates in France, Britain, and Australia, and is expected to make its German debut next week. Plans were also underway for the social networking website to be available in Asia.