Can MySpace Music Break Bands? The Clutter-Cutting Case

MySpace Music has typically been a starting point for bands and fans online.

But can this site actually jump-start an artist career?  This is a concern for any artist battling the clutter, and it has also become a greater focus for the MySpace Music team.

But… MySpace Music?  Why focus too much marketing energy on such a distressed darling?  There are plenty of reasons.  Topline traffic declines at MySpace are certainly creating issues for the music property, but the traffic base for MySpace Music remains impressive.

And, according to some measurements, actually gaining.  At New Music Seminar recently in New York, MySpace Music CEO Courtney Holt quietly told the audience that monthly uniques have hit 30 million, up from 16 million in January of 2009.  Digital Music News checked out that claim, and found that stats on music-specific pages matched that figure and are indeed gaining.  According to comScore Media Metrix, MySpace Music clocked just under 30 million uniques in June alone, up from roughly 20 million last year.

That is a considerable amount of traffic, especially for a targeted audience.  So, instead of Twittering into the wind, artists lucky enough to get featured by MySpace Music can generate momentum in the early stages.  Holt and company have been memorializing that approach through its “Introducing…” series, a program that essentially devotes an 8-week promotional blast to an artist.  Now, MySpace is planning to expand that program, and the industry should expect to hear more over the coming weeks and months.

At NMS, Holt stopped short of taking credit for sparking success stories like Jason Derulo.  The reason is that multiple factors play into the early-stage development of an artist career.  But stats suggest that MySpace is helping to create a far broader imprint than would otherwise be achievable.

In the Derulo example, a late-2009 MySpace collaboration coincided with a major push by Warner Bros., though the leading indicators all improved aggressively.  According to data tracked by BigChampagne, Derulo’s daily YouTube counts moved from 2.5 million in late-2009 to more than 4 million by early March when the MySpace push ended.  Similarly, Twitter fans ramped from roughly 14,000 to nearly 45,000 during the window, also according to stats chronicled by BigChampagne.

Too poppy?  Another artist getting the MySpace Music royal treatment was Janelle Monae, a more critic-friendly (and SXSW friendly) artist.  Certainly, artists need to gauge the fit to the site and audience, though Monae label Atlantic (traditionally one of the more successful majors) seemed happy with the startup fuel. “MySpace’s Introducing program was critical to the launch of the Janelle Monae project,” relayed Livia Tortella, GM/EVP at Atlantic. “It was the main driver in our first week sales at retail, including our pre-order promotion… and the perfect vehicle to show the music fan what makes Janelle special.”