By Jared Newman | Friday, April 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm
Wired has an interesting feature on MySpace Music, which was supposed to be a boon for the music industry when it launched a half year ago. Free streaming music from all four major record labels and support for playlists seemed like a good idea.
Unfortunately, the service had some serious usability issues, such as limits on playlist size and a slow music player, and the song selection wasn’t comprehensive. Courtney Holt, who stepped in to lead MySpace Music in January, three months after launch, is candid about the problems in his chat with Wired, calling the original service “plumbing and a playlist.” He covers similar ground as he did in a New York Times Bits interview from March, when the service started adding new features and improving the interface. Perhaps Holt is trying to get the word out that MySpace Music isn’t all bad anymore.
And for a free service, it could be worse. The ability to search for bands and build playlists directly from the results is nice, and I like the pop-out player. I’m wondering why playlist management is stunted — it can’t be done in real-time and new songs add themselves to the top of the list, rather than the bottom — but as a tool for discovering new music, it’s functional enough. Links to the Amazon MP3 download for each song are enticing, too.
Holt is also looking to “bring back the album,” as Wired puts it. Entire pages will be dedicated to individual albums, packed with bonus features and a forum for fans to discuss the music. With greater support for indie bands, MySpace Music is starting to look pretty robust.
If I were the record labels, I’d be looking to duplicate this service on other social networks. Design-wise, I’ve always found MySpace to be sloppy, and that’s keeping me away more than the content or the way it’s managed. Obviously adding streaming music to my network of choice (Facebook) can’t happen overnight, but I’d much rather get two dozen streaming track recommendations from friends than read 25 of their obscure personal details.