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Back in 2005, MySpace had just become the darling of social networking. So much so that it attracted the interest of Rupert Murdoch and his friends at News Corporation, which beat MTV to the punch and bought MySpace—joining it with such“legacy media” as the Fox Television Network, co-owned cable channels like Fox News, Fox Sports, FX, Speed Channel, andFuelTV, as well as long-standing print enterprises the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal—the latter eventually bought by News Corp. in 2007.
The MySpace brand was extended by News Corp. to also tie-in with a couple dozen or so TV stations in many of the largest cities in the US, all co-owned and affiliated with the Fox Network. The stations’ websites ended up using MyFox in their domain names, such as myfoxny.com for WNYW-Fox 5 in New York City, myfoxla.com for KTTV-Fox 11 in Los Angeles, and myfoxaustin.com for KTBC-Fox 7 in Austin, TX.
But very recently, the Wall Street Journal was not giving co-owned MySpace enough love, at least not from a business perspective, when they ran a story detailing MySpace’s revenue and visitor traffic declines, and the trouble MySpace has had in selling to advertisers. In terms of revenue and online visits, MySpace is practically back to where they were in 2006. The declines can be blamed on Facebook having overtaken MySpace in 2008, and haven’t stopped even after MySpace was recently reinvented to be less about the social networking and more about the music and entertainment.
When News Corp. put MySpace on the block in late February 2011, at least 20 different entities showed early interest, mostly from the private equity and venture capital worlds. But just over a month after the “For Sale” sign went up on MySpace, it was reported by Reuters that VEVO, a joint venture principally owned by the world’s two largest recorded music content distributors—the Universal and Sony Music Groups, both “legacy media” in their own right—was said to be showing interest in buying it out.
Though an anonymous person close to the negotiations told Reuters that the chances of VEVO getting MySpace were slim, to say nothing of News Corp. having been turned down by Vevo a few weeks prior, could major record labels being in a position to own a pioneering social networking and music discovery website cause independent musical acts to wonder whether staying on MySpace would still be a good idea? Writing from my perspective as a lay person and fan, I wouldn’t think so.
If you, as an indie music act, are concerned about the possibility of a major label-owned MySpace, I highly suggest that you cut, or limit, your MySpace presence as soon as you can, if you haven’t already, and devote more of your social networking presence to Facebook, ReverbNation, and perhaps Twitter—least not to mention countless of new sites out there devoted to helping you advancing your artist career. I will admit that it’s a strong idea coming from someone in my position, but as sure as I have blogged about how signing a recording contract with a major label has its risks, so too, might a major label-owned MySpace have them. And while I wouldn’t know what kind of risks such ownership would entail, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those involves, in general terms, a lesser degree of artists’ control over their MySpace pages. In these days of the “360 deal,” there’s a chance that such could happen.
To be fair, I must emphasize again that there’s a good chance of VEVO not ending up as MySpace’s new owner; the site could go to someone else who’s financially well-backed. Then again, what’s to say that MySpace co-founders Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, if they’re able to get up enough cash, can choose to buy it back?
But if VEVO were to own MySpace, do you think it would still be worth it for you to have a page on there any more?