MySpace Music launched this morning. It offers some intriguing features, such as allowing artists and labels to upload their entire catalogs for streaming. And to get paid for it. Great, right? Maybe.
As is sometimes the case when the major labels get involved, the MySpace Music model for remuneration lacks detail. In a nutshell, it is a subscription model paid for by site advertising rather than user fees. In this arrangement, artists and labels make their tracks available for free streaming. MySpace Music in turn sells ads on every blank spot they can cover. Then MySpace Music identifies a percentage of their ad revenue, divvies it up among the participating artists and labels, and pays each of them per an as-yet unspecified metric.
In other words, the retailer — or, in this case, the monolith giving the music away — pays not what they agree to pay, but what they choose to pay. And what compensation, specifically, will an artist or independent label receive per streaming play? That part is missing from the media campaign.
In fairness to MySpace Music, this once-relevant grassroots juggernaut now servicing the major labels, maybe they will pay the artists and independent labels, who have no leverage in this arrangement, fairly and generously.
Then again, nothing is forcing them to.
Note to MySpace Music: artists expect transparency from you. Announce a range of what you plan to pay per streaming play. Otherwise, rumor has it that iTunes is readying its own streaming service. And we already trust them.