The new Myspace has much more modest aims than before. Purchased by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for $580 million in 2005, with the thought that it would dominate the Web, it was eventually eclipsed by Facebook and other social networking sites. News Corp. sold it in 2011 to Specific Media for $35 million.
Like the old version of Myspace, the new Myspace allows its users to listen to huge amounts of music. It has a music library consisting of some 50 million songs, which is larger than any other online music service available. Most of its tracks, though, are made up of artists on small record labels or without representation.
Therein lies the rub. Digital rights group Merlin represents over a thousand independent labels across the globe. It claims that Myspace is using many of its tracks without permission.
Notably, Myspace originally had a contract to stream music represented by Merlin’s clients, but in 2011, when the contract expired, the site opted not to renew when it.
Charles Caldas, chief executive of Merlin, said that songs from more than 100 of Merlin's labels are still available on Myspace, including Merge, Domino, and Beggars, three of the largest independent labels. He added,
While it’s nice that Mr. Timberlake is launching his service on this platform, and acting as an advocate for the platform, on the other hand his peers as artists are being exploited without permission and not getting remuneration for it.Caldas is referring to the fact that, as a minority investor, Timberlike debuted a new song, “Suit & Tie,” not only as a teaser for his latest album, but to promote Myspace, too.
For its part Myspace said that if any music from the labels represented by Merlin remain on the site, “they were likely uploaded by users” and would be removed if requested by the company.
While Myspace user numbers are far down from its peak of 76 million in 2008 -- in December, it had 27.4 million unique visitors in the United States, according to comScore -- the music industry can use all the business it can get, so Myspace cannot be ignored.
Still, William Crowley, the vice president for digital and mobile at eOne Distribution, an independent music distributor that is associated with Merlin said:
The feeling is not good. Unlicensed services are a source of grave concern, especially high-profile ones.