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The evolution of music-from mtv to myspace

November 8, 2008

MTV or Music Television built its brand celebrating the new art form of the early 80s, the music video. It gave the music industry just what it needed, the eyeballs of a young generation to promote its product which it made a buck a disc for.

Fast forward several decades to the emergence of MySpace as THE music brand and you see a radically different notion of the role of music. Music is given away and streamed, the value of this is to provide exposure and shared advertising revenue for bands and record companies. The money is not made in the music, but in the merchandise and concert ticket revenue.

As Techcrunch told us in October.

“But today the labels have all but given up on DRM, and users can now
play virtually any song ever recorded on demand for free. MySpace has
created the first ecosystem that has a shot of producing sustainable
revenue streams for artists based on advertising, merchandise and
concert sales.

If it works, the next step is the fall of per-stream fees and
download fees. Instead labels will see music consumption for what it
really is – free marketing. Labels will compete to encourage song
downloads and streams to move those songs up the charts, attracting
premium advertisers, merchandise sales and sold out concerts.”

What’s interesting to see here is the role music has played as a glue to generate revenue for media companies, but the context of that revenue generation has changed over time.

It seems that MTV has lost its way as a brand with television no longer being the dominant media of the youth generation, music video dying as a form and the network shifting focus away from music to regular television shows.

Apple became the next brand to exploit and dominate the music channel with iTunes and the iPod, but the software was always just there to sell the high margin hardware. iTunes has now being panned by the critics for not keeping up with the times and Apple has a few other heavyweight players including Nokia trying to take a big share of the hardware business.

Another player is MySpace, who came out of the gate in October with a relaunched music service that achieved incredible traction. Just a few DAYS after launch, the brand streamed one billion songs.

At the recent Web 2.0 conference there was all kinds of speculation about the potential for an MP3 player to be launched by MySpace.

However, this isn’t really the game anymore.MySpace’s core competence is all about community and from day one its community has been focused on music. This is something that can’t easily be copied and Apple, Nokia and Sony will struggle to make this happen. The story here is not about an iPod rival from MySpace, but instead the arrival of MySpace as a formidable media player in the new world of music.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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