Remember MySpace? It was the most popular social network before Facebook became the overlord of the landscape.
Look at it this way: there was Friendster, then MySpace, then Facebook. You don’t remember Friendster either? It’s the failed social network that’s now a social gaming network which owns some basic patents on social networking owing to them being pioneers in the field.
Anyway, like Friendster, MySpace has declined very rapidly over the years, to put it mildly.
How much has MySpace declined? Well, in 2005, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp purchased MySpace for $580 million.
The social network is now owned by Specific Media LLC and Justin Timberlake, purchased for a relatively measly $35 million in 2011.
It just re-launched with a focus on music and how artists and fans can connect with each other.
Notice the trend here as failed social networking giants of the past re-launch with a narrower focus to try to stay relevant?
For MySpace, it’s music as it has always been a place for bands and other music acts in the past to build up their following.
MySpace could have just as well been renamed MyMusicSpace, MyMusic or MyWayToConnectWithMyFavoriteMusician, or something.
It turns out, though, that a music group is crying foul and accusing MySpace of using music without consent.
In an interview with Mashable, Charles Caldas, CEO of UK-based music agency Merlin, says that the company has a problem with MySpace and its alleged misuse of music the company licenses.
Merlin represents independent record labels.
He told the publication that Merlin takes “issue” with MySpace not getting licenses from them but having their music plastered all over the site.
Caldas says that the site is “launching with hundreds of tracks and offering them free, on demand to consumers” without proper licenses from the people who made these tracks.
In turn, the people who own the rights to these materials are not being paid their due, the CEO insists.
In his interview with The New York Times, Caldas hints at the irony of the site being partly owned by Justin Timberlake who is also a music artist.
He says that it’s actually great that JT is co-owner of the site and is acting as its chief evangelist.
However, MySpace is actually exploiting other music artists “without permission” – is there exploitation that’s permitted? – by not paying them their due for their work.
Nonetheless, MySpace is shifting the blame off its shoulders to its users. It told the Times that the music in question “were likely uploaded by users”.
That’s basically saying: “Hey, don’t blame us, blame the people who use the site.”
Myspace has said, though, that should Merlin request these materials to be removed, they will do so.
So that’s the first big issue MySpace should deal with as it threatens the site’s relationship with independent record labels.
The new MySpace site is sleek though, if that helps.
Image 1 from Edward Kustoff on Flickr (CC)