MySpace Music: So, How Does It Look?

The Internet Archive Manages to Recover 490,000 'Lost' MySpace MP3 Files
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If music started and ended on the internet, then MySpace Music would be the end-all, be-all solution.

Of course, music is enjoyed everywhere – on iPods, mobile devices, CD-Rs, automobiles, and laptops, and music fans demand transferability between different environments.  They have also grown accustomed to free acquisition – and for some younger fans, music has always been free.

That makes the MySpace Music proposition a bit incongruent with current listening and acquisition habits, though the concept still breaks some ground.  Sure, services like Rhapsody and Napster have been offering multi-million, on-demand catalogs for years, though most fans have been deterred by subscription requirements.  Now, these catalogs are being offered for free, and MySpace has delivered a mostly adequate, 1.0 experience.

MySpace Music falls far short of delivering a superb interface or svelte design, but then again, MySpace is known for its rough edges.  That spells some confusing moments and a vague sense of disorientation, though the cloud starts to clear rather quickly.  Among the areas underachieving is search, especially given the inability to delineate by artist, album, or song.

But those flaws are actually secondary to the available catalog, playlist functionality, and sharing components.  In the end, this thing works, the catalog is mostly in place, and after about twenty minutes, the process starts to get fun.

But will you find your favorite songs or artists?  It depends.  The catalog appeared strong after an initial stab, despite missing content from various independent labels.  There are a lot of matches here, and plenty of unexpected gems.  Artists ranging from Rakim to Nas, Chic to Heatwave, Interpol to Franz Ferdinand, Sepultura to Metallica, and Rachmaninoff to Vivaldi are represented, though of course, specific searches are highly personalized to the individual.  That means some hit-and-miss scenarios for die-hard music fans, and potentially bad experiences for those searching for not-yet-licensed content.

But MySpace Music has secured comprehensive major (and some independent) label licensing, an approach that addresses the biggest audience demand first.  On top of that selection, users can easily create playlists ad nauseam, and access songs without limitations.  The options include a profile playlist, a feature that presents the outside world with a selection of songs, instead of just one track.

The entire process is free, unless a permanent download is desired.  For that need, enter AmazonMP3, which is managing permanent downloads for MySpace.  If the song is on Amazon, users can purchase it, and easily load the song into iTunes using the AmazonMP3 Downloader.  Once the hand-off happens, Amazon just does its thing without a glitch.

On the advertising side, marquee sponsors McDonald’s and Toyota are difficult to miss, both on the site and customized player.  The result?  After a few hours of endless McDonald’s Dollar Menu ads, the appetite eventually shifts from free music to cheap food.

Review by publisher Paul Resnikoff.