MySpace to Sell DRM-Free Music

by Janet Meyer Sep 12, 2006

I should’ve seen this coming. Everybody else wants a slice of the digital music pie; why not the third largest internet site in the United States? According to numerous sources, MySpace wants to become the biggest music store on the internet.

It already has the community in place. There are plenty of musicians who have space and fans here. Currently many unsigned artists are giving away their music on MySpace. Some of them will be happy to try to sell it instead.

According to, earlier this month MySpace opened its doors to anybody who wishes to sell music. Without DRM, the music downloaded from there will be playable on virtually any mp3 player on the market.

Before deciding to sell music, MySpace already hosted about 3 million artists or bands. Many of them have found fans by promoting themselves on the site. MySpace has become a place not only to socialize, but also to find new, unsigned bands.

Artists will certainly like the ability to control the prices for their songs. American Chronicle reports that MySpace plans to take a minimal cut of each sale. ( says this cut will be 45 cents per song.) Without DRM, artists open themselves to piracy. MySpace contends that it is up to each artist whether or not to take that risk.

Unsigned artists who already have a following on MySpace would seem to have the most to gain by this. Many of them already offer music for free, so they’re probably not worried about piracy. In fact, they might argue that pirated music will help them to become better known in the long run.

They’re probably right about that. For bands with a fan base, this could be an opportunity to make some money with their music. They can find out of listeners are really willing to purchase their songs or not. It’s a chance for new artists to take control of their own sales without any real risk.

Many articles about MySpace question whether or not popular artists would be willing to sell their music DRM-free. I’m not sure they would find much of a problem with it. CDs have always been easy to copy, as well as other formats music has been sold in before the advent of digital downloads. The control they would get over pricing their songs and the potential to make more than just a small royalty per download could be very appealing.

The hardest part for those selling music would be promoting their songs. They are competing with millions of other artists. Despite this, some bands have found fans through MySpace.

I like seeing other options for musicians. New, unsigned artists don’t have much to lose by it. The major labels aren’t going to like it, which means that for awhile, at least, iPod should still find itself on top of the musical offering game.

With MySpace openly stating that it wants to be the largest online music store, this will be an interesting battle to watch. I wonder how long it will take major artists to sell their songs here, and how long until users find their music. If MySpace eventually offers music from major artists, I wonder what Apple will do to compete.

I would almost count on some kind of action from the record industry to keep signed artists from selling at MySpace. The RIAA isn’t going to like this at all.

What do you think? Is this good news for both artists and fans, or is it just another download venture that hasn’t a chance of competing with iTunes?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the ways iTunes has inspired changes in the music industry. I was not aware at the time that MySpace was about to announce its new offering. iTunes has proven that music lovers will support their artists. MySpace and artists who sign their might just be the next ones to benefit.





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