Nowadays in the music business, there are a few constants that you can almost always count on. For instance, an album is going to leak before its release date, intentionally or not. Bands will always be willing to take promo photos on train tracks or against brick walls. That sophomore effort is going to be harder to sell than the first, great one. If anything else, at least you can hear major pop artists’ music for free on MySpace Music.
According to TechCrunch (via The Daily Swarm), though, the latter of those may change. Sources told the blog that the social network is “almost certainly” going the way of the pay, and will “restrict free streaming to users.”
Not to be confused with just plain ol’ MySpace, the MySpace Music venture, launched last year, was an ad-supported program that all the major labels and some independents entered into, so that users could stream basically any published song ever and create playlists for free. The labels get paid royalties, MySpace gets a boost in traffic, listeners get free stuff.
The reason that MySpace Music may start using a pay model, however, is that the royalty payout is a giant money-suck. One source indicated that MySpace Music was losing $20 million a month on streaming royalties alone, not to mention whatever whirring hardware costs.
Facebook, Twitter, Bebo and other sites have put MySpace usage, as a social network, on the wane, or at least divided its user base. However, MySpace has been a contant go-to for music listening: you know what you’re getting, you know where to find it, and you can look up some tour dates, photos and videos while you’re at it too.
For MySpace Music to switch to a pay model, at least for this music listener, would be a nail in the coffin, particularly since the newly-launched Google Music is getting more and more awesome.
Understandably, labels would benefit from a pay model on MySpace Music — if its userbase remained the same. But, as the labels know, young people aren’t real keen on purchasing music, even streaming music. No one knows exactly what a pay model on MySpace Music would look like, but from this vantage, things aren’t looking good so far.