MySpace Music: It's All About the Activity Stream

MySpace Music launches officially this evening, featuring an enormous collection of free streaming music from all four of the major record labels (EMI apparently signed on at the last minute) and several intriguing features for music discovery and monetization. While there is much to get into in describing the new service, the end product is what you see above – integration with users “Friend Updates” – the MySpace equivalent of the Facebook News Feed.

Why this is so important and potentially ground-breaking is that rather than simply broadcasting the fact your friend listened to or liked a certain song, MySpace will actually let you play the full track, right there on your homepage. iLike can now do this to a certain extent with its Facebook application – now part of the “Great Apps” program – but that’s limited to 25 full streaming tracks per month through a deal with Rhapsody. On MySpace, it’s unlimited streaming of the music your friends are listening to from the news feed.

From there, MySpace Music works much as we’ve anticipated over the past few months. While you can stream an unlimited amount of music, if you want it on your iPod or a mobile device, you’ll need to purchase the track. That can be done for mp3s through MySpace Music’s partnership with Amazon, and for ringtones through a partnership with Jamster.

The other big feature of MySpace Music is playlists. Users can create an infinite number of playlists and embed them on their profiles, in addition to being able to copy playlists from friends, celebrities, or brands. The brand playlist is an interesting sponsorship angle of MySpace Music – launch partner McDonalds is giving away free mp3 downloads via their own branded MySpace page. As part of the launch, the existing playlists on artist pages also get a bit of a makeover, now incorporating the features that allow users to purchase mp3s and ringtones.

While the unprecedented streaming music catalog is certainly appealing and a huge threat to services like Rhapsody and Napster, it’s the integration with the News Feed that could make MySpace Music killer. Forget the fact that you might’ve already abandoned MySpace for Facebook for keeping up with friends – offering an unlimited music catalog combined with the activity stream concept gives you a whole different reason to use MySpace – discovering new music via your social network. It’s a big idea, and one that probably only MySpace could have pulled off. We’ll see how well it’s executed when the service opens up to everyone (US-only for now) later tonight.

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