MTV: Put your ad next to pirated content

It’s one thing to turn a blind eye — as some networks do — to the uploading of pirated content that occurs daily on YouTube, MySpace and other social networks and services. To use one potential metaphor, it’s like the approach that some countries take to prostitution or marijuana: They know it’s out there, but as long as it doesn’t cause any trouble then they’re okay with it. It’s quite another thing, however, to do what MTV is proposing to do, which is to actually place ads alongside the content that is being infringed. That’s like legalizing prostitution or marijuana use and taxing it.

According to an announcement today, MTV has teamed up with MySpace and a company called Auditude to do exactly that (I mean sell ads next to copyright-infringing videos, not legalize prostitution and marijuana use). Theoretically, that means the network — and MySpace — could benefit any time someone uploads a clip from The Colbert Report or South Park or a music video, based on the advertising that Auditude inserts into the clip. As the LA Times story notes, YouTube rolled out similar technology earlier this year, giving copyright holders the option of monetizing their content rather than removing it. And some are taking that offer.

As more than one person has noted, the approach that MTV Networks is taking seems a little ironic, given that its parent company Viacom is still suing Google for $1-billion in a long-running copyright infringement case. Will that kind of lawsuit go away, as more content providers try to monetize their content wherever it appears, rather than suing to have it taken down? I hope so. What if Auditude or YouTube offered its identification technology as an open API, so that video clips posted by people like me could include ads? I think that would be a great solution. Bring it on.

This could actually work: MySpace Music

I agreed to the same embargo that I assume everyone else did when it comes to information about MySpace Music, but since the news is already out there, I figure all bets are off now, and we’re free to post whatever we want about the venture launching tonight, or tomorrow morning, or whatever it is. I’ve seen all the same screenshots and read through all the same background material as TechCrunch and others have, and I have to say that it looks as though this might be one music venture backed by all the major record labels that… how shall I put this… doesn’t totally suck.

In fact, this launch would be worth it even if the only change was that music doesn’t auto-play when you load a MySpace page (the fact that most MySpace pages make my eyeballs bleed when I look at them is a different story). But that said, I think the way that this has been put together actually has a chance of succeeding, for a few reasons, including:

Continue reading

Record biz online strategy, version 9.0

After months of rumours — and years of talking about it — MySpace is launching a comprehensive music service involving three of the four major record labels (for some reason that remains unknown, EMI wasn’t part of the announcement, although some say it will soon join the venture). According to PaidContent’s description of the conference call, which none of the labels participated in, the music service is a joint venture that will have separate management, and will involve downloads and possibly streams at some point, but may not be riddled with DRM.

Almost from the moment it became a social phenomenon, which would be three or four years ago now, MySpace has seemed like an ideal vehicle for music — and in many ways it has been an ideal vehicle for musicians to reach their fans, to communicate with them, to share tracks (or in many cases only short snippets of tracks, thanks to the paranoia of the record labels) and to generally build awareness. But it hasn’t been a great place to actually buy or sell music, despite being a giant platform for social networking between artists and fans.

Some of that could be blamed on a largely stillborn music venture with Snocap, the startup backed by Napster founder Shawn Fanning, which promised to allow musicians to sell songs through a Snocap store widget that could be embedded on artists’ pages. Although that too seemed like a great idea, it ran into technical difficulties and Snocap changed gears several times before finally laying off 80 per cent of its staff. The assets were later acquired by the music network Imeem, which also has deals with several of the major record labels.

According to MySpace, there are 5 million musical acts on the network and more than 110 registered users (although some of them are likely people like me, who registered just so they could see someone’s profile, and have rarely been back since). So it seems like a slam-dunk to turn at least some of those 5 million into revenue-generating opportunities. So why hasn’t MySpace been able to do it before now? The record labels themselves are partly to blame for that, of course (and reading between the lines it seems as though this venture is at least in part a peace treaty to settle the lawsuit between Universal and MySpace).

Whether this new venture can break some of those old rules remains to be seen.

Social media rescues 70’s rock bands

What is it with 1970s rock bands and the Internet? Yet another example of social networks and Web 2.0 coming to the rescue of a faded rock group: legendary band Boston is starting a tour this summer, and one of the stand-ins for missing singer Brad Delp (who committed suicide last year) will be a guy named Tommy DeCarlo, who the band found via cover versions of Boston hits that he had posted to his MySpace page. I can’t find out much about DeCarlo, but he’s actually pretty good at hitting the spine-tingling notes that Delp was famous for.

Boston joins another rock band with long hair and a high-pitched singer: Journey, who parted ways with original singer Steve Perry and then later parted ways with his replacement as well. Then they discovered a Filipino fan on YouTube, and he is now touring with the band. And to round out the trio, the thrash metal band Anthrax also found a new band member in part through MySpace. And of course INXS found a replacement for their singer through a reality show called Rockstar INXS, which isn’t really social media but is pretty close. If I were a singer or guitarist for a fading rock band, I would behave myself, if only because I would be afraid that my fellow bandmates could replace me with some yob they found on MySpace.

bonus Canadian content: J.D. Fortune is Canadian, Brad Delp’s parents were Canadian, and Boston’s tour starts in Thunder Bay.

MySpace wants to fix your Transmission

According to a piece in the New York Times today, MySpace is launching a service called Transmissions, which is aimed at bands and artists who want to use the social network to enlarge their fan base. The site says that it is offering them the opportunity to name a studio of their choice and then record whatever they want — at which point MySpace will stream the content and give users the opportunity to buy copies of the song or the video or both. The company said it sees the feature as being like MTV Live, but with more real-time delivery.