Warner Music Group Joins Snocap, MySpace Initiative

  • Save

Warner Music Group artists will soon position downloads on their MySpace pages, part of a recent alliance with Snocap.

The tie-up follows a number of independent label deals for Snocap, though Warner is the first major label to join the parade.  Unlike the independent deals, which involve MP3s, Warner will deliver protected WMAs, consistent with its larger policy on DRM.  Those files will be unplayable on iPods, though PlaysForSure-compatible devices will support the downloads.  Warner Music did not indicate whether its files would be playable on Microsoft Zune devices, just one consideration in an increasingly tricky protection landscape.  Artists like Buckcherry, Danity Kane, Lupe Fiasco, Nickelback, and T.I. will be part of the action, though catalog artists may lack MySpace audiences.  Other possible sales points include artist websites, blogs, and email campaigns.

For Warner, the alliance broadens the number of digital sales points, and positions the music where die-hard fans congregate.  Theoretically that sounds enticing, especially given the impulsive nature of music buying, though it remains unclear if fans need an alternative to the iTunes Store.  Unfortunately, the MySpace effort is too premature for anyone to assess, and scant data makes it doubly difficult to understand.  For now, labels, technology providers, and artists are approaching the concept with an experimental attitude, a stance that makes sense in an uncertain market.  Meanwhile, a DRM-protected play by Warner will likely cool adoption, especially given the importance of iPod compatibility.  Whether labels like Warner will ultimately ditch DRM remains unclear, though some prognosticators point to an inevitable shift away from locks-and-keys.  For now, the major label executives – at least those outside of EMI – appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach.