If you haven’t heard by now, the much-anticipated MySpace Music is officially live after getting EMI to come onboard as the final major label on the site. Though they still don’t have a CEO in place, they do have a rumored $2 billion valuation and some serious buzz at launch. All the usual tech bloggers like ReadWriteWeb and Techcrunch have great summaries of the site so I won’t go into a rundown here. Instead, I want to provide the perspective of a Brand Manager looking at this as a way to digitally connect with consumers.
First a little background since I have a pretty long history with MySpace.
- For starters, when I was working as an Assistant Brand Manager on Secret, we did one of the first-ever CPG campaigns on the site, which included co-branded music page with a then unknown artist named Rihanna.
- Second, I have some very good friends who work at MySpace, thanks in part to the above campaign
- Finally, I actually met my girlfriend on MySpace, a surprising fact that has been pretty useful in games of “two truths and a lie.”
So what all this means is that I have a soft spot for MySpace and I’m usually pulling for them with new initiatives. Thankfully on this latest program, they gave me plenty of ammunition to cheer about.
Here are my thoughts:
MySpace’s key to success will be capitalizing on their brand equity of “discovery”: When I hear about a new band, MySpace is always the first place I go. No matter if the band is signed to a major or a complete undiscovered, I know there is a 99% chance they have a MySpace where I will be able to hear a few of their songs. Theoretically I could do the same with iTunes but it has always been hit or miss if they have new bands. In the short-term, MySpace won’t be able to win by just promoting big, new releases. Instead, they neeed to focus on their equity of discovery and promote the up and coming bands like crazy.
MySpace Music won’t win over marketers if it is just another “banner ad” media buy: There has been a lot of debate about the CPM’s MySpace will need to charge in order to make this ad-supported format work. At the heart of the debate is the fact that current social networking media buy CPM’s are extremely low. The fact is that if MySpace treats this program like more banner ad media inventory, then they have already lost. What they need to do is create truly compelling, holistic campaigns that tie bands to brands. The first appeal of MySpace to me 4 years ago as a markter was that MySpace gave me access to artists I couldn’t afford to sign individual deals with. They were the gateway for me associating with some amazing music. MySpace needs to leverage that strength to create some really compelling marketing campaigns that in the end make CPM’s irrelevent. The type of advertising that Pandora offers on their site is a start, but MySpace needs to go much, much further than that. Create marketing programs that exist on and off the web.
Amazon.com made a brilliant move partnering with MySpace and providing DRM-Free Music: Honestly until I read about the deal with MySpace Music, I didn’t even know that Amazon offered music downloads. Now they are going to be a click away whenever I listen to new music. However, the key to this deal working out for them as well, will be point #1 above. If Amazon can become the place to buy new, up and coming music, then they can put a serious dent into iTunes market share. When I hear about a band like Benjamin Del Shreve, I want to be able to go straight to their MySpace page, listen to their songs and buy them if I want. I want to stop having to flip a coin in the hopes that iTunes might carry the band.
MySpace Music needs to bring the social back to music: In order for MySpace Music to truly be revolutionary, I think they need to bring the social back to music. Fred Wilson over at A VC has talked at length about his love of mix tapes and MySpace seems to be listening. But they need to avoid having MySpace Music be a walled garden where how I listen to and share music is limited. Don’t make me go to MySpace to use your service. Let me download an Adobe Air player for my desktop. Also make it easy for me to share my favorite music with my friends. Give me a widget on my blog showing my playlist. Hell, find a way to let that same widget live on Facebook since to me Facebook and MySpace aren’t competitors. MySpace needs to not make the horrible mistake of acting like a portal and forgetting that the future of the web is social media…not isolation.
Treat MySpace Music like a brand and hire accordingly: As a huge music fan, I see a lot of potential in MySpace Music. But I also see them making a couple of mistakes that could have major negative impacts on the site being as revolutionary as they want. In my opinion, the best thing they could do is hire a CEO who gets not only the Social Web, but also Brand Marketing. MySpace Music needs to act like a brand, not an Internet Portal. Don’t just hire a web guy…and please don’t hire a media/music person. Get someone that can build this into the brand that it has the potential to be.