Social networks prepare own music services

Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:46am EDT
 
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By Antony Bruno

DENVER (Billboard) - One of the biggest new-media sensations to emerge from last year were music-related widgets -- mini-applications that allowed members of social networking services like MySpace or Facebook to customize their profiles with such music features as streamed playlists and tour calendars with links to ticket sales.

What helped the widget trade to boom in the first place was that MySpace and Facebook didn't offer such services to artists and fans directly. But now that MySpace is readying a full-featured music service of its own, and Facebook is rumored to be working on something similar, what happens to all these widgets that filled that void?

It's hard to imagine that MySpace will block these applications once the music service rolls out. The company faced a harsh member backlash last year after it started blocking widgets, and it joined Google's OpenSocial initiative specifically to give developers the tools needed to write applications for MySpace that can also work on competing social networks.

So if MySpace doesn't block overlapping services, what happens then? Here's a quick snapshot of the main services MySpace Music plans to offer, the existing providers of the same and how this might shake out in the months to come.

STREAMING/PLAYLISTS

Artists on MySpace can already stream songs in full, sometimes entire albums in advance of their release, as long as their label gives the OK. However, MySpace members haven't had the ability to construct and stream their own playlists from their profile without outside help. The leading widgets that enable MySpace users to do so are imeem and Last.fm.

Both are social networks in their own right that have capitalized on MySpace's musical foot-dragging to lead the way in online free streaming, and both are targeting MySpace's audience. It's unlikely that MySpace will rely on either to power its internal playlist/streaming features, particularly as it's not that difficult a service for MySpace to build on its own.

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<p>A screen grab of MySpace.com. One of the biggest new-media sensations to emerge from last year were music-related widgets -- mini-applications that allowed members of social networking services like MySpace or Facebook to customize their profiles with such music features as streamed playlists and tour calendars with links to ticket sales. REUTERS/www.myspace.com</p>